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
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
gold in the world.