The History of Gold

People have always placed a high value on gold. Found widely throughout the world, gold was available to many different peoples and cultures, such as the Incas in South America, ancient Egyptians in Africa, and the ancient Greeks and Romans in Europe. Gold, unlike many metals that require more mining or smelting effort, was found easily by earlier civilizations in streams in its natural state. Gold is shiny, lustrous and beautiful. It doesn’t tarnish or corrode. It is highly malleable, easy to work with, and easily shaped. Because of these qualities, both ancient and modern cultures placed a value on the metal.

At first gold was merely used as ornamentation and decoration. Shrines and idols were made using the brilliant ore. Even before gold became a measurable monetary unit, it was valued as a sign of wealth. Sometime around 700 B.C., the first gold coins were produced in Lydia (today, part of modern Turkey). A mix of gold and silver, Lydian merchants used the coins to advance their trade. 

Later, the ancient Greeks also used gold as money and it is from them that much was learned about basic gold mining. Romans built on the Greek’s knowledge, diverting streams and mining underground for the precious metal. Gold became a monetary standard in the world, allowing for trade between countries and empires.

Gold remained important to the world economies as a standard for the value of many countries’ money until the 20th century. In 1931, Great Britain stopped using a gold standard, and 40 years later, the United States followed suit. Since 1971, no paper money in the world has been redeemable for gold.

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Gold was first discovered thousands of years ago in its natural state, in streams, which lead to mining all over the world. Its brilliance, natural beauty, great malleability and resistance to tarnish made it enjoyable to work with. Gold gave rise to the concept of money itself. Today gold is used for jewelry fabrication, industrial application, and medical uses, by governments and central banks and by private investors.

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