20 incredible facts about gold

No metal can claim a legacy comparable to gold. Gold has been used to show affectionate love, but it has also represented power, status, and riches for the greatest kings of antiquity. Gold’s history is truly legendary, ripe with colorful tales and anecdotes from people ranging from William Shakespeare to Christopher Columbus. But gold doesn’t just «talk the talk». Gold also walks the walk, because its grandeur is backed up by impressive chemical properties and uses. As we documented in our extensive Gold Series, it’s been used as a monetary metal for thousands of years by ancient civilizations such as the Lydians, Greeks, Chinese, and Romans. It’s the most malleable and ductile metal, and it doesn’t tarnish or corrode. Over time, these properties have helped people to associate gold with concepts such as immortality or royalty. Even today, people are still finding new uses for gold that are impressive in their own right. For example, scientists recently discovered a gold alloy that is four times tougher than titanium. Without further ado, here are 20 incredible facts about gold by Bullion Vault.

1. Almost 40% of all the gold ever mined in history came from South Africa over just the last 130 years. It still holds the world’s 3rd largest unmined reserves, behind Australia and Russia.

2. The world produced more steel every hour in 2015 than all the gold ever mined in history.

3. The world’s largest gold hoard is not at Fort Knox, but in the New York Federal Reserve, Weighing 5,890 tonnes, over 93% actually belongs to foreign governments, who use the NY Fed for secure storage. Similarly, the Bank of England in London holds some 5,130 tonnes, but only 6% belongs to the UK government.

4. The deepest mine in the world is the world is the Mponeng gold mine, southwest of Johannesburg, South Africa, where miners now drill more then 3,9 kilometers below ground 2,4 miles. Rock temperatures reach 55 Huge refrigeration and pumping equipment cool the air to a more bearable 28.

5. Gold is rare on Earth because it’s rare in the Universe. Unlike iron or carbon, it isn’t created inside stars, according to the HarvardSmithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, but by the collision of former supernova neutron stars – a «very fast, catastrophic, extremely energetic type of explosion».

6. The world’s largest gold nugget was the Welcome Stranger found in Victoria. Australia in 1869 it weighed over 71 kg of which 65 kg became refined or 1,8 million today. The largest nugget still in existence however is the «Hand of Faith», found in 1980 in Australia. Weighing 27 kg it can be seen on display at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas.

7. Gold is the most ductile of all elements. One gram can be stretched 165 meters long 540 feet with the diameter of a human hair.

8. Gold is one of the most dense elements, even more dense than lead. A billiard ball made of gold will weigh the same as a baseball made of lead.

9. Money began with gold coins in the Asia Minor kingdom of Lydia (now part of Turkey) around 560 B.C. Legend says the gold came from the river Pactolus, in which King Midas supposedly washed away his ability to turn all he touched into gold.

10. Gold was the basis of the world’s monetary system as recently as 1971, when the United States – lacking the bullion to back the currency already printed – abandoned the dollar’s exchange rate of 1/35 of an ounce on 15 August.

11. Jewelers accounts for 60% of world gold demand each year. Technology uses 10%. Investment bars and coins 20% and central bank demand around 10%.

12. The largest gold coin in the world is the 1 tonne Australian Kangaroo and is issued as Australian Legal tender with a denomination of 1 million Australian dollars.

13. China is now the world’s largest market for gold jewelery, with sales of 750 tonnes in 2015. It is also the No 1 gold mining nation, and the No 1 importer of gold bullion.

14. Olympic gold medals were pure gold until 1912. Today they only contain 1,34% gold, which equates to about 6g. At today’s price this would be worth $237 or $168.

15. Gold’s high value makes e-scrap a fast-growing segment of the recycling industry. One tonne of smartphones contains roughly 10 troy ounces of gold. Two hundred laptops would yield 5 troy ounces.

16. Lying at the bottom of the Caribbean near Colombia since 1708, Spanish galleon the San Jose may contain 4 - 17 billion of gold, silver and emeralds from the mines of Peru.

17. The worlds earliest gold relics date from 4500 B.C. and were discovered in burial sites at Varna, Bulgaria, Weighing 6 kg in total, the 3,000 gold artifacts included bracelets, thimbles, scepters and beads.

18. Though King Tutankhamun was a minor Pharaoh who died aged 18, the innermost of his 3 coffins was made of solid gold weighing 110 kg – perhaps more than all the gold mined in Ancient Egypt during his lifetime.

19. Lake Guatavita near modern-day Bogota in the Colombian Andes was a sacred lake for the Muisca people. Covered in gold dust, each new leader would throw golden treasure into the water from a raft, and then dive in to appease the gods – a ritual which grew into the gods – a ritual which grew into the 16th century legend of Ei Dorado amongst the gold – hungry Spanish Conquistadors.

20. Gold is mentioned more than four hundred times in the bible and includes precise details from God to cover furniture in the tabernacle with «pure gold». It is also estimated that. By today’s prices, the gold in Solomon’s Temple would be valued at $50 billion.