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Gold: Most Sought-After Precious Metal

Of all the different precious metals we can think of, gold is certainly the one most greatly desired. Since the beginning of recorded history, gold has been in use in many different works of art, coinage, and, of course, jewelry. Occurring as grains in rocks and in alluvial deposits, gold is shiny, soft, and dense. It is known to be the most ductile and malleable pure metal.

What makes pure gold especially attractive is its bright yellow color and luster. These characteristics are maintained as gold is chemically unaffected by air or moisture. Here are some of the properties of gold:


- Chemical Symbol: Au

- Atomic Number: 79

- Category (as an element): Transition Metal

- Group/ Period/ Block (in the Periodic Table): 11/ 6/ d

- Atomic Weight: 196.966569(4) g.mol-1

- Electron Configuration: [Xe] 4f14 5d10 6s1


- Density (near room temperature): 19.30

- Liquid Density (at melting point): 17.31

- Melting Point: 1064.18?C, 1947.52?F, 1337.33?K

- Boiling Point: 2856?C, 5173?F, 3129?K

- Heat of Fusion: 12.55 kJ.mol-1

- Heat of Vaporization: 324 kJ.mol-1


- Oxidation States: -1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

- Electronegativity: 2.54 (Pauling scale)

- Atomic Radius: 144 picometre

- Covalent Radius: 136?6 picometre

- Van der Waals Radius: 166 picometre

- Ionization Energies: 890.1 kJ.mol-1 (first), 1980 kJ.mol-1 (second)

The term "gold" was derived from "geolu", an Old English Anglo-Saxon word which means "yellow". Its symbol "Au", on the other hand, originated from "aurum", the Latin word for "gold". The exact period when gold was first discovered could be a subject of dispute. While some accounts point to the year 1848 when gold was discovered in California, history tells us that this precious metal was already being used extensively by the ancient Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Chinese, and South Americans.

Throughout history, gold has served as a measure of value and a symbol of wealth. It is one of the coinage metals (along with silver and copper). It is used, customarily and legally, as a means of payment or a medium of exchange. Gram and troy weight are the units of measurement used for gold. To indicate the amount of gold present in, say, a piece of jewelry, the term "carat" is used. A necklace, for instance, that is 24 carats means that it is made of pure gold.

While gold's price is determined through trading in the derivatives and gold markets, its daily benchmark price is provided in a procedure called the London Gold Fix. In this procedure, the price of the precious metal is determined each business day on the London market. The fixing is done twice - once in the morning and another in the afternoon. The latter actually was introduced about 49 years after the procedure itself was introduced, as a means of providing a price when US markets are open.

This gold-price fixing procedure is done by the five members of the London Gold Market Fixing Ltd., namely The Bank of Nova Scotia, Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank AG London, HSBC, and Societe Generale Corporate & Investment Banking.

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Gold Quotes

    Gold was not selected arbitrarily by governments to be the monetary standard. Gold had developed for many centuries on the free market as the best money; as the commodity providing the most stable and desirable monetary medium.
    -Murray N. Rothbard

    The history of fiat money is little more than a register of monetary follies and inflations. Our present age merely affords another entry in this dismal register.
    -Hans F. Sennholz

    As fewer and fewer people have confidence in paper as a store of value, the price of gold will continue to rise.
    -Jerome F. Smith

    Those entrapped by the herd instinct are drowned in the deluges of history. But there are always the few who observe, reason, and take precautions, and thus escape the flood. For these few gold has been the asset of last resort.
    -Antony C. Sutton

    For more than two thousand years gold's natural qualities made it man's universal medium of exchange. In contrast to political money, gold is honest money that survived the ages and will live on long after the political fiats of today have gone the way of all paper.
    -Hans F. Sennholz

    When paper money systems begin to crack at the seams, the run to gold could be explosive.
    -Harry Browne

    In a country whose currency is not convertible into gold, inflation leads to its continuous devaluation in terms of foreign currencies.
    -Michael A. Heilperin

    Until government administrators can so identify the interests of government with those of the people and refrain from defrauding the masses through the device of currency depreciation for the sake of remaining in office, the wiser ones will prefer to keep as much of their wealth in the most stable and marketable forms possible - forms which only the precious metals provide.
    -Elgin Groseclose

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