The Ultimate List Of Gold Facts

The Ultimate List Of Gold Facts

Steven Cochran
Published: July 21, 2021
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We came up with so many fun facts about gold that we decided to divide our list into topical sections! You can use the sidebar to the left to jump between sections.

Scientific Gold Facts

molten gold

Do you know what temperature gold melts at? See fact #6.

#1. The chemical symbol for gold is Au.

#2. It comes from the Latin word for gold, aurum.

#3. Gold's atomic number is 79, making it the 79th element on the periodic chart.

#4. Gold's atomic weight is 196.966 amu (atomic mass units).

#5. Gold has 79 protons, 118 neutrons, and 79 electrons.

#6. Gold melts at 1,064.43°C (1,947.97°F).

#7. The density of gold is 19.3 grams per cubic centimeter.

#8. Gold is one of the few elements on Earth that can be found in a pure state.

#9. Pure gold is soft enough to be molded by hand.

#10. A noble metal, gold is chemically inert.

#11. Pure gold is odorless and tasteless.

#12. It is also non-toxic and edible.

#13. Gold is hypoallergenic.

#14. It takes a special mixture of 1 part nitric acid and 3 parts sulfuric acid, called aqua regia, to dissolve gold.

#15. Gold is thought to have originally formed in our galaxy from the collision of neutron stars, or from supernovae.

#16. Scientists believe most of the gold on Earth came from meteorites bombarding the planet more than 200 million years ago.

#17. Another theory says that some of the gold in the interstellar dust that formed the Earth did not sink into the core. Instead, it circulates within the Earth's mantle, and sometimes is pushed up into the crust.

#18. A 2013 study suggests that earthquakes may create gold veins. Earthquakes release pressure on heated water in faults deep underground. The water can vaporize, leaving gold particles in the cracks..

#19. The world's oceans contain 200 million tons of gold suspended in seawater. But at a concentration measured in parts per trillion, there is no viable way to collect it. (It doesn't mean that people haven't tried.)

#20. The Earth's crust contains 0.0013 parts per million of gold.

#21. The Earth's core is estimated to contain 20 million tons of gold. This would be enough to coat the surface of the world in gold 1-1/2 feet thick.

#22. NASA estimates that the asteroid Eros contains 20 billion tons of gold.

#23. Six ten-billionths (0.0000000006%) of the Sun's mass is gold.

#24. One cubic centimeter of Gold weighs 0.019 kg (0.043 lb).

#25. One cubic inch of Gold weighs 0.698 lb.

#26. One cubic foot of Gold (12" per side) weighs 0.6 tons.

#27. Expand that cube by 2.2" per side to 14.2", and the weight nearly doubles to one ton.

#28. If you had a goose that really laid golden eggs, each egg would weigh around 2.9 kg (around 6.4 pounds).

#29. A single standard ounce of gold can be pulled into a thread 50 miles long.

#30. The average human body contains 0.2 mg of gold.

#31. Eucalyptus leaves can contain gold. Gold nanoparticles are deposited in its leaves when the roots of a eucalyptus tree penetrate underground gold.

#32. "Aurophobia" is the irrational fear of gold.

Facts About Gold Demand

gold bar price rally

Gold bars are often used as an investment.

#33. You are more likely to find a 5 ct diamond than a 1 oz gold nugget.

#34. Gold is the world's most popular investment metal.

#35. As such, the price of gold constantly fluctuates, reacting to economic and political events.

#36. The 400 troy oz "Good Delivery" gold bar is the standard unit used in the international gold trade.

#37. The weight of investment gold is measured in troy ounces (31.1 grams per troy ounce).

#38. The purity of investment gold is stated in parts per thousand, called "fineness." 99.9% pure gold is expressed at ".999 fine."

#39. The weight of gold jewelry is measured in grams.

#40. The purity of gold jewelry is expressed in divisions of 24, called karats. 18K gold is 75% pure (18/24).

#41. Approximately half of world gold demand each year is in the form of jewelry.

#42. The most popular gold jewelry purity in the US is 14K (.583 fine).

#43. Gold jewelry must have at least 10K purity (41.7% pure) to be sold as gold in the US.

#44. The most popular gold jewelry purity in China is called "Chuk Kam" (Cantonese for "full gold"), which is 99% pure.

#45. The most popular gold jewelry purity in India and Southeast Asia is 22K.

#46. The most popular gold jewelry purity in the Middle East is 21K.

#47. Low purity jewelry (under 14K) will tarnish, due to other metals making up most of the piece.

#48. World gold consumption in 2019 was led by jewelry (2,132.2 metric tonnes). Next was Investment (1,264.9 t), Central Banks (668.5 t), then Technology (326 t).

#49. Due to economic uncertainty during the COVID pandemic in 2020, investment demand (1,773.8 t) outpaced jewelry (1,400.8 t) for the first time in recent history.

#50. The top 5 countries by gold demand are:

  • China
  • India
  • US
  • Germany, and
  • Turkey

#51. German households own 9,100 metric tons of gold, mostly in bars and coins. This is greater than the gold reserves of the United States.

#52. Indian households are estimated to hold more than 25,000 metric tons of gold (mostly in jewelry.) This is more than the gold reserves of the top 10 nations put together.

#53. Switzerland has the highest per capita gold reserves in the world, at 120 grams per person.

#54. The top five nations with the highest government gold reserves are:

  • US (8,133 t)
  • Germany (3,361 t)
  • Italy (2,452 t)
  • France (2,436 t), and
  • Russia (2,922 t).

#55. Ft. Knox in Kentucky holds 147.3 million troy oz (about 4,852 tons) of US gold reserves. This is 60% of total US gold reserves.

#56. The highest that US gold reserves have ever been is 20,262 tons, reached in October 1941.

#57. As of June 2021, the Basel III agreement among the world's most important banks classifies allocated physical gold as a "risk-free" asset, alongside cash and currency.

#58. Banks are required to keep 85% collateral for unallocated gold held under Basel III .

#59. 1967: South Africa introduces the Krugerrand, the first modern gold investment coin. With a weight of one troy oz, it is sold by weight and gold content, not by face value.

#60. The Perth Mint in Western Australia offers the largest gold coin available to buy, with the 10 kg Gold Kangaroo. Weighing 22 pounds, they are only made to order. At a gold price of $1,900, the gold alone is worth almost $611,000.

#61. The Perth Mint also made the world's largest gold coin, a 2011 Gold Kangaroo bullion coin weighing one metric ton (obviously not for sale.)

#62. The most expensive coin in the world is the 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle "twenty dollar gold piece" once belonging to King Farouk of Egypt. It sold for $18.9 million in a June 2021 Sotheby's auction.

Fact About Uses for Gold

Gold In Astronaut Space Suit

Can you find the gold in this picture? Check fact #64!

#63. Gold nanoparticles are used as a catalyst in the petrochemical industry.

#64. Sheets of gold beaten thin enough to see through are used to coat astronauts' visors to protect their vision from ultraviolet radiation and keep their suits cool.

#65. An ultra thin coating of gold is used on moving parts in space to prevent cold welding.

#66. Gold is used on the surfaces of watch gears as a permanent lubricant.

#67. Similarly, gold is used on implants in the body to lubricate the joints and reduce the chance of the body rejecting it.

#68. Gold nanoparticles are used to detect chemical and biological agents.

#69. They are also used in diagnostics, including pregnancy tests and to measure the progression of HIV.

#70. A simple test using gold helps reduce malaria outbreaks in developing nations.

#71. Gold is used in a rapid field test for COVID that doesn't need to be sent to a lab to get results.

#72. Gold isotope nanoparticles are used for early detection of cancer.

#73. Photothermal therapy can target the same gold isotopes accumulated in tumors without the damage to surrounding healthy tissue associated with radiation therapy.

#74. The same properties allow lower doses of radiation therapy to be effective.

#75. Gold is used for targeted delivery of drugs.

#76. Injectable gold has been proven to help reduce pain and swelling in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

#77. The antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of gold nanoparticles help combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria when used in wound dressings.

#78. The first pure samples of colloidal gold were created by accident by Michael Faraday in 1856. The original samples still exist, and the gold still remains in suspension.

#79. Gold catalysts can replace mercury in the production of PVC plastic.

#80. Gold is used to increase the efficiency of solar panels.

#81. Gold is used to coat copper electrical connectors to prevent oxidation from interrupting the circuit

#82. Gold is used in fingerprint and facial recognition sensors.

#83. Gold is used in NAND solid state memory, exists in everything from computers to smartphones to cameras to consumer electronics.

#84. Each iPhone contains 0.018 grams of gold. Apple used 3.5 tons of gold to make 200 million iPhones in 2019.

#85. Gold has been used to fill cavities and perform dental work since the 7th century BCE.

#86. Gold leaf is gold that has been beaten to a thickness of 0.12 microns. It is often used to gild picture frames and statues.

#87. A sheet of copy paper is 130 microns thick. It would take a stack of 1,083 sheets of gold leaf to reach the same thickness.

#88. One ounce of gold leaf is enough to cover the ceiling of a 10 x 15 ft room.

#89. It would take 384 troy ounces (26 lb, 5 oz) of gold leaf to completely cover an NFL football field, including the end zones.

Facts About Gold Production

welcome stranger gold nugget

A replica of the famous Welcome Stranger gold nugget discovered in Australia. (See fact #146.)

#90. Gold has been discovered on every continent on Earth.

#91. The world's first gold mine is thought to be at a Stone Age site in Sakdrisi, in the Republic of Georgia. This is the same area that gave birth to the legend of the Golden Fleece.

#92. Since it doesn't decay, most of the gold that has been discovered throughout history still exists today.

#93. The top five gold producing nations in the world in 2020 were:

  • China
  • Russia
  • Australia
  • US, and
  • Canada

#94. About 197,600 metric tons of gold has been extracted since the dawn of civilization (2019.)

#95. If it were gathered in one place, it would form a solid cube 21.7 meters (71.2 ft) per side.

#96. Put another way, it would fill three Olympic-sized swimming pools.

#97. More steel is produced per hour worldwide than there has been gold poured throughout history.

#98. It is estimated that just 20% of the Earth’s gold has been mined.

#99. Of the remaining 80%, only about 54,000 tons of gold still in the ground worldwide is economically viable to extract at current prices.

#100. Globally, around 3,000 tons of gold is extracted annually.

#101. A third of all mined gold is recovered as a byproduct from copper, lead, and zinc mines.

#102. Nevada accounts for 78% of all gold mined in the US. If Nevada was its own country, it would rank #4 in gold-producing nations

#103. Russia supplied half the world's gold from the 1700s until the 1849 California Gold Rush.

#104. Over 90% of the world's gold has been produced since the 1849 California Gold Rush.

#105. South Africa has produced about half the mined gold in history, in just 135 years.

#106. The Witwatersrand Gold Basin in South Africa holds the world's largest proven gold reserves.

#107. The richest underground gold mine in the world is the Fosterville Mine in Australia, with a grade of 42.4 grams of gold per ton of ore.

#108. The richest open pit gold mine in the world is the Way Linggo Mine in Indonesia, with a grade of 7.3 g/t.

#109. The world's deepest gold mine is the Mponeng Mine in South Africa, extending 4 km (2.5 mi) deep.

#110. The deepest gold mine in North America is the Homestead Mine in South Dakota (now closed), extending more than 8,000 feet (1.5 mi) below the surface.

#111. "Welsh gold" is one of the rarest types of gold in the world. Found in two small areas in Wales, it is said to have a distinctive appearance. Certified Welsh gold nuggets can sell for as much as 10 times over spot gold prices.

#112. Great Britain's Royal Mint established six branch mints across its global empire, to refine the gold from regional gold rushes and strike gold sovereigns.

  • Sydney, Australia (1855) New South Wales Gold Rush
  • Melbourne, Australia (1872) Victoria Gold Rush
  • Perth, Australia (1899) Western Australia Gold Rush
  • Ottawa, Canada (1908) Yukon and British Columbia Gold Rushes
  • Bombay, India (1918) minting South African gold during WWI
  • Pretoria, South Africa (1923) Witwatersrand Gold Rush

Facts About the History of Gold

most valuable ancient gold coin

The ancient "EID MAR" gold coin references the "Ides of March" when Julius Caesar was assassinated.

#113. Gold was the first metal worked by humans, since it is found in streambeds in a pure state, and is soft and malleable.

#114. The Greek legend of Jason and the Golden Fleece was likely inspired by the practice of ancient people in the Caucuses placing unshorn sheepskin in streambeds to capture particles of placer gold.

#115. The oldest known hand-worked gold objects are large numbers of gold funerary goods dating from 4600 BCE to 4300 BCE discovered at the site of the pre-Bronze Age city of Varna, in Bulgaria.

#116. The ancient Egyptians were fashioning gold jewelry as early as 3000 BCE.

#117. The ancient Egyptians made gold leaf as thin as one micron for gilding decorations and statues.

#118. The coffin found in Tutankhamen's tomb contained around 1.5 tons of gold.

#119. Tutankhamen's death mask alone was made of 100 kg of gold

#120. The world's oldest-known topographical map shows gold mines in Egypt's Eastern Desert. The papyrus map was prepared for Pharaoh Ramesses IV around 1150 BCE.

#121. The ancient Egyptians called gold "the flesh of the gods." (Silver was considered the bones of the gods.)

#122. The ancient Norse called gold "Freya's tears."

#123. The Inca called gold "the sweat of the Sun."

#124. The Aztecs called gold the "poop of the gods."

#125. The ancient Greeks postulated that gold was an especially dense combination of sunlight and water, since it was found in streambeds.

#126. The ancient Romans used minute traces of gold chloride to make ruby-colored glass.

#127. This glassmaking technique was lost to science until rediscovered by Andreas Cassius in 1676.

#128. West Africa supplied most of the known world's gold between 400 BCE and 1500 CE.

#129. The area around the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa was called the Gold Coast by European explorers.

#130. The English named their gold coin introduced in 1663 the "guinea" for the Gulf of Guinea, where they obtained their gold.

#131. The Empire of Mali controlled most of the gold producing areas in West Africa in the 14th century. This made King Mansa Musa the richest man in the world.

#132. During his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1325, he spent and gifted so much gold in Cairo, that gold prices crashed, and didn't recover for ten years.

#133. The legend of El Dorado originated in what is now Colombia. When a new king ascended the throne of the Muisca nation, he covered himself in gold dust and dove from a gold-covered barge into Lake Guatavita.

#134. During the fourteenth century, drinking a mixture of colloidal gold and crushed emeralds were used as a treatment for the bubonic plague.

#135. Colloidal gold was also used in the Middle Ages to treat diseases ranging epilepsy and leprosy to syphilis.

#136. In olden days, sailors were said to wear gold earrings in the hope that it would pay for a Christian burial if they drowned and washed up on shore.

#137. The King James Version of the Bible mentions gold 417 times.

#138. The legend of King Midas was used not only to warn of the dangers of greed, but to explain the large amounts of gold found in the Pactolus River in Lydia.

#139. The first known pure gold coins were made of gold from the Pactolus River during the reign of King Croesus of Lydia, around 550 BCE.

#140. Gold coins remained in circulation around the world until the 1930s, when permanently higher prices made it economically impossible to continue the practice.

#141. Julius Caesar awarded 200 gold coins to each of his 30,000 soldiers after the conquest of Gaul in 50 BCE.

#142. The classical Gold Standard flourished from the 1870s to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. All attempts to revive the Gold Standard after WWI had failed by 1934.

#143. The United States outlawed the possession of gold from 1933 to 1975.

#144. Switzerland was the last nation to back its currency with gold, at 40% per face value. This was ended by a public referendum in 1999.

#145. The largest solid gold object in the world is the Golden Buddha in Bangkok, Thailand. It is 3 m (9.8 ft) tall, and weighs 5.5 metric tons (6.1 short tons).

#146. The world's largest pure gold nugget was discovered in Australia in 1869. Named the "Welcome Stranger," it weighed 2,520 troy oz (173 pounds)—until it was melted down!

#147. The largest gold nugget still in existence is the "Hand of Faith," also discovered in Australia. Discovered in 1980, the 60-pound mass of gold was purchased by the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas for over $1 million.

#148. Olympic gold medals were made from pure gold until 1912, when they began being made of gold-plated silver. Modern Olympic medals are made of sterling silver, plated with 6 grams of gold.

#149. Industrialist and banker JP Morgan is quoted as saying "Gold is money. Everything else is credit."

Facts About Famous Gold Rushes

gold panning rush dreamstime 4358264

Panning for gold was common during the California Gold Rush.

#150. The California Gold Rush was the third major gold rush in the United States.

#151. The first gold rush in the United States began in 1799, when farmboy Conrad Reed in North Carolina brought home a 17 pound nugget he found in a stream.

#152. The second gold rush in the US began in 1828, in northern Georgia.

#153. The Black Hills Gold Rush in North Dakota began in 1874 when Col. Custer and the 7th Cavalry were ordered into Sioux territory to investigate rumors of gold.

#154. The first Australian gold rush occurred in Victoria in 1851. Many Australian veterans of the 1849 California Gold Rush used their expertise to find gold back home.

#155. Australian prospector Edward Hammond Hargraves boasted that he would find gold inside a week when he returned from the California Gold Rush—and did it. His discovery set off the 1851 New South Wales Gold Rush.

#156. The Western Australia Gold Rushes began in 1885, lasting until 1893. The area is still a major gold producing area.

#157. The Witwatersrand Gold Rush in South Africa began in 1886, when George Harrison found a rocky outcropping of gold that was part of the Witwatersrand Gold Reef.

#158. The British government founded a branch of the Royal Mint in Pretoria in 1923, to process the gold coming out of Witwatersrand into gold Sovereigns.

#159. The Witwatersrand Gold Rush was the world's largest gold rush

#160. The Witwatersrand Gold Rush was not the first South African gold rush. The Pilgrim's Rest gold rush in 1873 was the first.

#161. The 1898 Klondike Gold Rush, aka the Yukon Gold Rush, was the last great gold rush in North America.

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Steven Cochran

Steven Cochran

Precious Metals Market Analyst | BS University of South Florida (2002)

A published writer, Steven's coverage of precious metals goes beyond the daily news to explain how ancillary factors affect the market.

Steven specializes in market analysis with an emphasis on stocks, corporate bonds, and government debt.

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