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GOLD is a soft, bright, yellow metal that occurs naturally and was formed millions of years ago by massive pressures and movements deep in the earth's crust. The earliest discoveries of GOLD were undoubtedly deposits in the rivers of Asia and Africa. However, the first underground mining was undertake in 2,00 BC by the Egyptians, between the Nile and the Red Sea. Early mines were also located in what are now Ethiopia, Sudan and Saudi Arabia. The Romans developed GOLD mines in Africa and Spain to finance their Empire, but once it collapsed, little GOLD mining took place for well over a thousand years. The biggest nugget ever discovered, called "Hottermann nugget", was found in Australia in 1872. It weighed a massive 33 stone! Years ago GOLD prospectors searched for GOLD along shallow river banks and in areas of igneous rock. Rivers winnow out the GOLD from the native and deposit it downstream where it has been panned by man since the earliest times. Largely though, surface mining of GOLD is ancient history and most GOLD today is brought to the surface from the deep, underground mines. The world's deepest mine is 3,777 meters below the surface. Conditions are difficult at these depths as miners have to work in the temperatures of about 55oC.

From the history to high-tech.

Buried Gold
For thousands of years GOLD has been the fascination of many kingdoms - the Greeks, Egyptians, Aztecs and Romans fought and often died for it. Its rarity and beauty have inspired the numerous magical stories. The legendary King Midas of Greece was said to have had the power to turn everything he touched into GOLD. The primeval Egyptians identified GOLD with power; the amount of GOLD in a tomb indicated the importance of the person buried there. Although most Egyptian tombs were robbed centuries ago, perhaps the most famous of all was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922. This was the tomb of King Tutankhamen who ruled Egypt in the mid 1300s BC.

Gold Legends
The Incas in South America worshipped GOLD. In the early 1500's they buried their dead in GOLD masks and dusted the bodies with GOLD. The Incas City was said to be EI Dorado or "Land of GOLD" as it came to be known, where GOLD was called "the sun's tears".

Although GOLD is probably the oldest metal to be worked by man, it has endured the test of time and found a place in today's modern technology. Experts soon realized the exclusive qualities GOLD had to offer and have applied it to many modern processes. For example, GOLD is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, and so has been widely used in the electrical and electronic industries. You may be surprised to know that GOLD plating can be used in the circuitry of calculators, telephones, televisions and even your own tape recorder.

Space Age Gold
GOLD's uses in modern science also stretch into the spectrums of aerospace and defense. Because it is a highly efficient reflector of heat and light, GOLD has been used on artificial satellites and space vehicles. Indeed the first step onto the moon

would not have possible without GOLD. Astronauts going into space use GOLD on their helmet visors and space-suits to reflect the intense radiation of the sun. GOLD is also used in the spacecraft itself - in the electronic circuits which control the flight and the lubricant.

Gold in Medicine
GOLD has been used in medicine for centuries - it was believed by some prehistoric cultures to be a magic cure. In ancient Egypt, gold's non-corrosive qualities were first exploited to fill decayed teeth. Now though, its uses in the dentistry have declined considerably since the discovery of more natural looking materials. GOLD was also used in the original practice of acupuncture because it is an excellent conductor of energy.

Because GOLD is naturally a soft, malleable metal, in order to make jewelry it must be alloyed with other elements to strengthen it. The "carat code" shown on the hallmark) will tell you how much pure GOLD your jeweler contains. The word "carat" comes from Arabic, meaning "bean seed", because years ago seeds were used to measure the weight of GOLD and precious stones. Now though, carat literally means the amount of GOLD an item of jeweler contains. For example pure GOLD is 24 carat or 99.99% pure - this would be far too soft for most jeweler and so an alloy added. If a piece of Jeweler is 9 carat GOLD, it is hallmarked with the number 375 meaning 37.5% pure GOLD (9 parts GOLD to 15 parts alloy). The higher the carat quality the greater the proportion of GOLD it will contain. Countries across the world allow different minimum carat standards.

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