is a soft, bright, yellow metal
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.
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.
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.
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".
AN INDUSTRY OF GOLD
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
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.