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Fun Facts About Gold Jewelry

Sep 4, 2007
If you are fascinated by gold, as most humans have been for the past 7,000 years, then you might find the following facts about the beautiful metal that you may be wearing on your neck, wrists and fingers to be quite interesting and in some cases surprising as well.

Gold and copper were the first metals to be discovered by man, around 5000BC, and together with silver these three metals are found in the metallic state in the earth's crust.

Following the fall of the Roman Empire, the mining and production of gold was halted for nearly 1000 years until the Spanish discovered America in 1492.

In the 14th century, the Incas, who considered gold "the sweat of the sun," conquered the Chimu Empire and made Chimu goldsmiths cover every inch of their Temple of the Sun's walls in gold.

In the 15th century, gold inspired Cortes to defeat Montezuma in Mexico and seize the Aztec's vast gold stores in an effort to revive Spain's economy. In 1531, Pizarro invaded Peru and captured the Incas' ruler Atahualpa and immediately melted down all of the Inca gold and sent it back to Spain

Gold mining took on much larger dimension after the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill on the American River (California) in 1848. The gold that was discovered in Australia and South Africa contributed to a supplementary increase in the world's gold supply and marked a turning point in the history of gold. Once a rare metal, gold now became more attainable by people of all classes.

In the modern era, Italy has remained at the forefront of the gold jewelry industry. The Italian Renaissance coincided with the discoveries of new sources of gold, and wealthy Italian patrons supported goldsmiths as they did painters and sculptors. The chemical symbol for gold is Au, from the Latin aurum, which means 'shining dawn'. Aurora was the Roman goddess of dawn which links to the warm, yellow color of gold. Gold and copper are the only two non white colored metals.

Gold is still mined in its metallic form in over 60 countries around the world. Gold is referred to as a precious and a noble metal. Gold has an excellent chemical stability with a high resistance to corrosion and oxidation.

The purity of gold is measured in Carats or Karats. A Carat was originally a unit of weight based on the carob bean, used by ancient merchants in the Middle East. The Carat is still used for the weight of gem stones where 1 carat = 200mg. Pure gold is 24 carats.

In Europe, 18 and 14 carat alloys are commonly used in jewelry while nine carat gold is popular in Britain. Many countries require every item of gold jewelry to be clearly stamped with its caratage. This hallmarking system was developed in London in the 14th century at Goldsmiths' Hall.

All of the gold in the world could be compressed into an 18-yard cube, which is about 1/10 the mass of the Washington Monument. It is believed that only 88,000 tons of gold have been taken from the earth since recorded history, leaving far more yet to be discovered.

A one-ounce gold nugget is rarer and harder to find than a five-carat diamond. Even though gold is rare, it is far easier to find than winning a major state lottery.

Gold is so heavy that one cubic foot of it weighs half a ton. Gold is six to seven times heavier than other materials that equal its size. The largest gold nugget found in the U.S. weighed 195 pounds; it came from California.

A single ounce of gold can be drawn into a wire 60 miles long. Gold can be hammered so thin that sunlight can shine through it. Gold can be hammered into sheets so thin that a pile of them an inch high would contain more than 200,000 separate sheets.

In every cubic mile of sea water there is 25 tons of gold and there are 10 billion tons of gold in the oceans. These are just some of the surprising facts about the world's favorite precious metal.
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