Gold has been coveted for thousands of years as a precious metal and treasured for its rarity and luster, Gold doesn’t rust and its beauty increases over time with normal wear. It is the most malleable of all precious metals and has a range of hardness based on its purity. Pure gold is often considered too soft for use in jewellery, so it's commonly mixed with alloy metals to strengthen and increase its durability. The chart shows the pureness of gold at different Karat numbers:
24 Karat: 99.9% Pure
18 Karat: 75% Pure
14 Karat: 58.3% Pure
9 Karat: 37.5% Pure
Gold is one of the most sought-after metals in the world. For thousands of years it has been used as an ornament of monarchies, a currency and standard for global currencies, and in a wide range of electronic devices and medical applications. Gold is also the only metal that forms no oxide film on its surface when exposed to air at normal temperatures. This means that it will never rust or tarnish.
One main goal of alchemists was to produce gold from other substances, such as lead — presumably by the interaction with a mythical substance called the philosopher’s stone. They never succeeded in this attempt and gold is still a highly valuable material.
Whereas most other pure metals are grey or silvery white, gold is yellow. Like other precious metals, gold is measured by troy weight and grams. When it is alloyed with other metals the term karat or carat is used to indicate the purity of gold present, with 24 karats being pure gold and lower ratings proportionally less.
Because of the softness of pure (24k) gold, it is usually alloyed with base metals for use in jewellery, altering its hardness and ductility, melting point, color and other properties. Alloys with lower karatage, typically 22k, 18k, 14k or 10k, contain higher percentages of copper, other base metals, silver or palladium in the alloy. Copper is the most commonly used base metal, yielding a redder colour.
Gold has been highly valued in many societies throughout the ages. In keeping with this it has often had a strongly positive symbolic meaning closely connected to the values held in the highest esteem of the society in question. Gold may symbolize power, strength, wealth, warmth, happiness, love, hope, optimism, intelligence, justice, balance, perfection, harvest and the sun.
Great human achievements are frequently rewarded with gold, in the form of gold medals and golden trophies. Winners of athletic events and other graded competitions are usually awarded a gold medal (e.g., the Olympic Games). Many awards such as the Nobel Prize are made from gold as well. Other award statues and prizes are depicted in gold or are gold plated (such as the Academy Awards, the Golden Globe Awards, the Emmy Awards, the Palme d’Or, and the British Academy Film Awards).
Wedding rings have long been made of gold. It is a long lasting tradition and has withstood the passage of time. It is believed that gold rings symbolize the eternal vows made before God, Gods or the sun and moon depending on the religious context. Gold is seen to be a perfect metal so it is also symbolic of the perfection of the marriage.
Gold holds its place as a symbol of wealth and through that, in many societies, success. According to Christopher Columbus, ‘those who had something of gold, were in possession of something of great value on Earth and a substance to even help souls to paradise’.