Why is gold so costly?

Since the beginning of the civilisation, man has had a deep

fascination for this shiny, yellow coloured metal, which symbolises

affluence even today. Kings and emperors always attached great

importance to gold. The statues of our Gods and Goddesses are

decorated with gold ornaments.

What is so special about gold that makes it so costly?

There are many reasons for this. Firstly, it is a rare metal and is

found in very small quantities. Its yellow in colour and the sheen is

very attractive, and being soft, it can be easily fashioned into

beautiful ornaments. Lastly, it is not affected by heat, cold, wind and

humidity.

Gold is found in both free and combined states. To extract gold from

its ores is a very expensive process. An exception was a small rock

of seventy-and-a-half kilograms found in Victoria, Australia, which

yielded seventy kilograms of pure gold, but such rocks are very rare.

Extremely small quantities of gold are obtained from gold mines.

Seawater contains traces of gold, but its extraction is uneconomical.

Gold also appears as fine grains in sand and gravel.

A significant portion of the world’s total gold production goes into

ornaments. Gold is also used in medicines and dentistry. Till 1914,

currencies of different countries were exchanged in terms of gold

only. Even today, the entire global economy is based on gold. For

instance, the Government of India had to deposit India’s gold

reserves in the Bank of England as security against India not being

able to repay an instalment of its foreign loan. It is a soft and

malleable metal; hence it can be easily converted into thin sheets.

Thin layers of gold are coated on other metals also. This process is

called gold plating.

Other metals like copper, silver, zinc, etc., are mixed with gold to

make it hard. It is not affected by most acids and alkalis, but

dissolves in aquaregia, a mixture of

nitric acid and hydrochloric acid. Since the price of gold is

consistently rising, people are investing money in gold and hoarding

the metal instead of the currency. Hence gold is regarded as a good

security, and a safe investment.

The gold mines of India are found

in Karnataka. South Africa, Russia,

Australia, Canada and the United States of America are the biggest

producers of

gold in the world.


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