Gold has long been prized for its beauty and rarity, and has played a significant role in human culture and commerce for thousands of years. From its use as a medium of exchange in ancient civilizations to its modern applications in jewelry, electronics, and more, gold has a fascinating story to tell. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of 50 facts about gold that will give you a deeper understanding of this remarkable metal. From its physical properties and sources, to its cultural and economic importance, these facts will shed light on the many aspects of gold that make it so valuable and enduring.
1Total Gold on Earth
There is enough gold in the world to cover it 13 inches deep, or about halfway up a person's leg. Most of the gold, however, is located deep inside the earth, in its core. Tungsten isotope analysis shows that the vast majority of the gold found on the earth's surface originated from the mantle following a meteorite bombardment some 3900 million years ago.
2. Since the beginning of time, humans have poured more steel per hour than they have mined gold. The total amount of gold ever mined could fill a cube with sides measuring 70 feet (21 meters). Roughly 1,700,000,000 metric tons of steel was manufactured in 2017. This corresponds to a cube with a size of 1980 feet (600 m) on each side, assuming a density of 7.7 g/cm3.
3. Compared to the amount of gold found in a ton of gold ore, there is significantly more in a ton of mobile phones. To get 1 gram of gold, you need 1 ton of ore, but you can get the same amount by recycling 41 cell phones.
4. The National Ocean Service estimates that there are around 20 million tons of gold floating around in seawater. But this gold is dispersed throughout the world's oceans. Each liter of saltwater contains, on average, around 13 billionths of a gram of gold. While there may be gold reserves beneath the ocean floor, doing so profitably is now beyond our capabilities.
5. The inertness and yellow color of gold can be explained by Einstein's theory of relativity. The electrons in gold are moving so near the speed of light that their orbits are being shrunk by relativity. It absorbs blue light, reducing the energy gap, which in turn reduces the reactivity of the outer electron.
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6Gold & Karat
Carob seeds have a fairly constant density; hence, they were historically employed as a standard for valuing precious metals and stones. The term "karat" originates from this concept and thus became a unit of measurement of the gold's purity.
7. A 12-year-old kid in North Carolina in 1803 sparked the first gold rush in the United States when he discovered a 17-pound gold nugget on his father's property. Up until 1829, all of the gold used by the country's mints came from this mine.
8. Since cash is taken upon arrest but jewelry is not, pimps often wear expensive gold jewelry that they can "re-pawn" to get out of jail.
9. An ancient Buddha statue said to be 600 years old was accidentally broken in 1955, revealing a gold statue hidden inside it. It was thought to be worth $250 million, with the body being 40% pure, the volume between the chin and the forehead being 80% pure, and the hair and topknot, weighing 45 kg, being 99% pure gold.
10. In 1784, a Japanese farmer unearthed a gold seal while working on an irrigation canal. It was presented by the Chinese Emperor to a Japanese embassy in 54 CE, the year of their first documented interaction. The seal was found to be 95% pure gold.
Not a single box or Treasury note was lost during Operation Fish, which sent 186,332 gold bars and almost 8 million ounces of gold coins from the United Kingdom to Canada during World War II. This was the largest movement of physical wealth in history.
12. From 1933 through 1975, private ownership of gold by Americans was prohibited, with a few exceptions (such as jewelry and collector coins). The January 30, 1934, United States Gold Reserve Act compelled the Federal Reserve to surrender all gold and gold certificates to the Treasury. It also prohibited the Treasury and financial institutions from redeeming dollar bills for gold, established the Exchange Stabilization Fund under Treasury control to control the dollar's value without Federal Reserve approval, and allowed the president to set the dollar's gold value by proclamation.
13. In 1944, the United States and other nations reached an agreement requiring all countries to use the dollar as the international currency and to convert gold at a fixed rate of $35 per ounce. By declaring that the United States would no longer use the gold standard in 1971, President Nixon effectively ended its use. This phenomenon was dubbed the "Nixon Shock."
14. To honor a time-honored maritime custom, Morgan Freeman wears a pair of gold earrings. If he dies abroad, they're worth enough to buy a casket.
15. The "Your Child in Gold" competition in Dubai encourages people to lose weight by offering a prize of one gram of gold for every kilogram (2.2 lbs) shed, with a bonus award for families. The competition is meant to bring attention to the problem of childhood obesity and get people to do something about it.
16Paying the Headsman Gold
People who were sentenced to death by beheading were told to give the headsman a gold coin as payment. This was done to make sure that the executioner wouldn't mess up the beheading and cause the person to die slowly from multiple blows.
17. A gold-capped tooth belonging to the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba was returned to Congo by Belgium in June 2022. After Lumumba's assassination in 1961, his body was destroyed in acid, and his bones were pulverized to dust, leaving just a single tooth. This came about after Belgium admitted in February 2002 that it had helped plot the 1961 murder of Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The crime was committed out of fear of losing control over Congo's natural resources.
18. In the early 1980s, employees who had worked over 25 years at the LEGO facility in Germany were honored with a 14-karat gold LEGO brick. They're worth about $15,000 apiece.
19. Eucalyptus trees contain gold. While searching for water, eucalyptus trees collect gold from the dissolved particles in the water and store it in their leaves. Finding new gold resources in Australia in this way is both cost-effective and efficient.
20. The oldest book in existence is the Golden Orphism Book, often called the Etruscan Gold Book. Someone excavating a ditch in Bulgaria over 70 years ago uncovered this golden artifact.
21Indian Household Gold
11% of the world's gold is in the hands of Indian housewives. That is greater than the combined reserves of the United States, the International Monetary Fund, Switzerland, and Germany.
22. When King Musa I of Mali undertook the Hajj pilgrimage in 1324, he did so with 80 camels carrying a total of 50 to 300 pounds of gold and a caravan of 12,000 slaves, each of whom carried 4 pounds of gold. He dispersed so much gold to the needy in the regions he visited that it triggered widespread economic collapse and price inflation.
23. In 2010, a man named Forrest Fenn hid $2 million worth of gold in an unknown location. The only clue to the location was a poem. For years, people came as close as 200 feet to the treasure but couldn't find it until a 32-year-old Michigan medical student named Jack Stuef discovered it in 2020.
24. There are gold-plated ATMs that distribute gold bars in a number of countries (the first ATM was located in Abu Dhabi). The equipment is secured "like an armored car" and put through explosive tests to deter theft.
25. For anyone who might assist in locating gold deposits, Goldcorp once paid $575,000. After paying out a winner, the Canadian mining corporation dug out gold there that was worth $6 billion.