Gold has always fascinated people, due to its scarcity but also for some other characteristics, such as that it never oxidizes. Below you will find some less well-known facts about gold.
Compared to other metals, gold is much softer. One can beat 1 gram of gold to a 1 square meter sheet and light would shine through that sheet.
Very few chemicals can attack gold, so that’s why it keeps it shine even when buried for 1000’s of years.
A total of eighty-eight thousand tons of gold have been extracted from earth since first found. This means all the gold that has been dug up so far in history would, if melted, make a cube measuring approximately 25x25x25 meters.
75% of all gold ever produced has been extracted since 1910; much of the gold mined throughout history is still in circulation in one form or another.
Gold is very rare compared with diamonds.
Gold is one of the heaviest metals in the world. For example, it is 19,3 times as heavy as water. One cubic meter weights some 19.300 kilogram.
The biggest gold nugget that has ever been found weighed approximately 90 kilogram and was unearthed in Australia.
Out of one ounce of gold (app. 31 gram) one can make a wire almost 100 kilometer long.
The word Gold derives from the Old English word Gelo meaning yellow.
The world's oceans hold a vast amount of gold, but in very low concentrations (perhaps 1-2 parts per 10 billion, which means every cubic kilometer of water contains 10 to 20 kg of gold).
In 2008 China overtook South Africa as the world's largest gold producer, the first time since 1905 that South Africa has not been the largest.
Switzerland was the last country to tie its currency to gold; it backed 40% of its value until the Swiss joined the International Monetary Fund in 1999.
Although the price of some platinum group metals can be much higher, gold has long been considered the most desirable of precious metals and its value has been used as the standard for many currencies in history.
Absolutely pure gold is so soft that it can be moulded with the hands.
According to some, there’s enough gold in the Earth’s crust to cover the entire land surface knee-deep.
No one is completely sure where gold comes from. The relative average abundance in our Solar System appears higher than can be made in the early universe, in stars, and even in typical supernova explosions. Some astronomers now suggest that neutron-rich heavy elements such as gold might be most easily made in rare neutron-rich explosions such as the collision of neutron stars. Since neutron star collisions are also suggested as the origin of short duration gamma-ray bursts, if you own some gold it is possible that you have a souvenir from one of the most powerful explosions in the universe.
It is estimated that at the end of 2009 there was a total of 165,446 tonnes of gold dug up. That boils down to some 25 grams of gold per person on the planet. According to calculations the total amount of gold yet to be retrieved from the Earth is about 100,000 tons.
At price of $1205.5 an ounce, the value of all the gold in the world is $6,412,310,567,488 or $958 for each person on the planet.
Since ancient times, the purity of gold has been defined by the term karat, which is 1/24 part of pure gold by weight. Pure gold is equivalent to 24K.
Gold purity may also be described by its fineness, which is the amount of pure gold in parts per 1000. For example, a gold ring containing 583 fine gold has 583 parts (58.3%) gold and 417 parts (41.7%) of other base metals.
Federal Trade Commission rules require that all jewelry items sold in the United States as gold shall be described by “a correct designation of the karat fineness of the alloy.”
1964 was the last year that circulating U.S. coins were struck in 90% silver.
The composition of U.S. coins has changed considerably over the past few decades. Because of a growing worldwide silver shortage, the Coinage Act of 1965 authorized a change in the composition of dimes, quarters, and half-dollars, which had been 90 percent silver. Silver was eliminated from the dime and the quarter. The half-dollar's silver content was reduced to 40 percent and, after 1970, was eliminated altogether. This applies ONLY to coins minted for everyday use with the general public. All dollar coins dated 1971 and later are either cupronickel or brass.
Nickels have always been made from copper and nickel, except during WW2 when they contained a small amount of silver. There has never been a 90% silver nickel.
For circulating coinage:
-- Dimes and quarters were 90% silver until 1964, and clad copper (that is, no silver) from 1965 onwards.
-- Half dollars were 90% silver until 1964, 40% silver 1965-1970, and clad after that
-- Silver dollars were 90% silver through 1935 and not made again until 1971. There were some 40% silver ones made for collectors, but circulation dollars were made of clad copper-nickel until 1999. The "golden" dollars came along in 2000 - but they're brass, and contain neither silver nor gold.
The mint continues to make silver commemorative and bullion coins, as well as silver versions of dimes, quarters and half dollars, for collectors - these are sold at a premium to face value and are unlikely to ever be found in pocket change.
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