Gold from ancient times to today

Gold is a truly remarkable element. Rare and precious it certainly is; all the gold ever collected or mined would fit within a 20-meter cube. Gold is so amazingly malleable and ductile that an ounce could form a wire nine times longer than the highest mountain on Earth. It is very heavy and dense, a cubic foot weighing more than half a ton, a good electrical conductor, and the most lustrous metal. The purest form of gold is 24-karat; however, pure gold is soft and scratches easily. Alloyed with silver, copper, or nickel, its increased durability makes it suitable for uses as jewelry and in industrial applications. Gold is nearly inert chemically, does not react with air, moisture, or most corrosives, holds its luster over time, and is suitable for everyday wear.

Despite its rarity, gold was the first metal widely known to man because of its ubiquitous occurrence in natural, workable conditions as flakes and nuggets. The Egyptians were first to smelt gold in the fourth millennium before the Christian era (BC) and to alloy it with other metals. To the Romans, first to use gold as the basis of a widespread monetary system, it was an obvious choice for currency as easily pressed into coins and identified by its weight and brilliance.

Over time, countries adopted the gold standard as a monetary system fixing the value of their currencies to gold. Great Britain was the first, and British economic influence caused other countries to follow its example. By the 19th Century all major nations except China used the gold standard.

In 1792, Congress adopted a bimetallic standard of gold and silver for the national currency with gold valued at $19.30 per ounce. In 1834 this value rose to $20.67, which held steady for the next 100 years until President Franklin Roosevelt devalued the dollar by raising the price of gold to $35 per ounce. Roosevelt's stated purpose was to boost commodity prices, especially for farm products, and create more employment for millions suffering from the impoverishing effects of the Great Depression.

In December 1971 representatives of the ten most industrialized nations met in Washington to improve international economic conditions. The Smithsonian Agreement raised the price of gold from $35 to $38 per ounce. But international economic conditions did not improve dramatically, and in 1973 the US government devalued the dollar a second time by raising the official price of gold to $42.22 per ounce. Eventually, the values of all international currencies floated freely against gold, the price of which rose by June of that year to $120 per ounce on the Commodity Exchange.

As an investment, gold outperformed the Standard & Poor's top 500 leading stock companies in nine of twelve years in the 2000 – 2011 period. Buying gold in 2000 yielded a 600-percent return at 2011 prices.

In September 2011, gold hit an all-time high price of $1,921 an ounce, a gain of more than 550 percent in just over a decade. Investors stockpiled it during the financial crisis of the Great Recession. The price of gold traditionally rises when stock shares, bonds, and cash lose value. By December 2013, however, the price had fallen to $1,246 per ounce, and analysts predict further declines.

Gold resources: Even though gold is in a correction at this time, it remains one of the safest investments. Historically gold has always had un upward trend and as supply is limited, it should continue to go higher in the long term. Peruse our site for information about gold and the best ways to buy or sell it.