Gold is a reddish yellow highly valuable metal. It appears solid at room temperature. It has been considered valuable for thousands of years. Gold is a dense metal and it is a good electrical conductor.

In chemistry, gold is symbolized as Au which is the short form of aurum. In Latin aurum is derived from the word aurora which means shining dawn.

Gold had many uses such as being used as a form of currency, used in jewelry making, used in medicine, and several other industries.

It is believed that the dust that created the solar system contained pure gold and gold we see today was originated from that dust in the process of making the solar system.

Where is gold found in nature?

Gold is mostly found in its pure form in nature. Other various forms of naturally occurring gold are found with tellurium, selenium, and bismuth. Although gold is found with those above elements it stays chemically uncombined in those forms.

Small amounts of gold can be recovered from copper purification processes as tiny amounts of natural gold occur with copper.

Gold occurring with pyrite is called fools gold.

fools gold - pyrite gold

Following the mining of pure gold or natural mixtures of gold, there is a purification process used for the refining of gold.

In today’s world gold is produced and sold by several countries. One of the main distributors of gold is China that leads the market.

Gold and its purity

Gold Ingots Treasure Bullion  - Stevebidmead / Pixabay
Stevebidmead / Pixabay

The purity of the gold is decided by its purity. This is expressed in karats. In the gold industry, karats indicate the purity of the gold as parts of twenty-four. That means 24 karat gold is pure whereas 22 karat jewelry contains 22 parts of gold with 2 parts of any other metal combined. Therefore 12 karat gold has twelve parts of gold combined with 12 parts of some other metal.

In jewelry-making, gold is often alloyed with silver, copper or, nickel, zinc, etc. This process even though reduces its gold value, produces high-quality jewelry.

Properties and uses of Gold

gold properties list

Gold is a good conductor of heat and electricity. It is a dense metal with good ductility and malleability.

Gold does not react with other metals easily. But it forms an amalgam when kept together with mercury. This reaction can take place at room temperature.

Gold does not react with oxygen even in higher temperature conditions.

Gold does not react with most acids. Aqua Regia which a mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid can dissolve gold. Note that nitric acid alone cannot dissolve gold. Aqua regia is a 1 to 3 mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid.

In medicine gold and its salt forms are used to treat inflammatory conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis. Gold salts serve as anti-inflammatories although their side effects limit their use in common practice.

In technical industries gold is used as electrical connectors and for IR shielding.

In jewelry-making gold is used in its pure form as well as a substance for electroplating.

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Anuradhika Lakmali

Anuradhika Lakmali is a co-founder of Science A Plus learning network. She is working as a government teacher and has interest in chemistry, biology, phisics and self development.