Some Fun Facts About Gold

by Rebecca in Gold with Comments Off on Some Fun Facts About Gold

We all know that gold is a great investment that holds its value no matter what the economy is doing. But even the most serious matters have an interesting or humorous side. Gold can certainly help you in achieving a comfortable retirement, build your wealth, and be an excellent investment. But who know there were so many interesting and amusing aspects to this beautiful precious metal?

How is Gold Measured?

Gold and other precious metals are usually referred to in ounces. Because they are worth so much, hardly anyone owns pounds of precious metals or if they do, they’re certainly not advertising it! Therefore, precious metals are measured in ounces.

Even the ounces measurement, though, is special. Precious metals are measured in Troy ounces, which are slightly heavier than an ordinary ounce. A Troy ounce is 31.1034768 grams as opposed to an ordinary ounce that weighs 28.3495231 grams. There are 32.1507466 Troy ounces in a kilogram and 32,150.6466 Troy ounces in a metric ton.

How Much Gold is There in the World?

There have been an astonishing 165,000 metric tons of gold mined since the dawn of human history. That equals 363,762,732 pounds or a whopping 5,820,203.717 (ordinary) ounces.

This can be pretty difficult for most people to visualize so lets try to put it in more familiar terms. An Olympic pool measures 82 feet wide and 164 feet long and holds 660,000 gallons of water. In metric terms that’s 50×25 meters and 2500 cubic meters of water; each cubic meter of water equals one metric ton of weight. Therefore, an Olympic pool could hold 48,250 metric tons of gold. It would take just shy of 3 ½ Olympic swimming pools to hold all the gold that’s ever been brought above ground by miners throughout history.

What if all that gold was shared by every single person on the planet? Assuming the most recent census of about 7 billion people is correct, every person would have .83 ordinary ounces of gold. If you wanted to wear it instead of having an ingot, dust, or nuggets it would make about 5 gold rings per person.

Gold is still being mined, of course, every day of the year. Each year all the gold that is brought above ground could be crammed into a room that is 20’ long, 30’ wide, and 8’ deep. That’s a lot of gold!

Is There any Gold Left?

According to National Geographic more than half of all the gold mined throughout history has been brought above ground in the last fifty years. The most profitable deposits are being quickly depleted and it’s rare that any new discoveries are reported. The huge nuggets of the California Gold Rush are unheard of now and the fantastic gold reefs of South Africa are no more. It’s unlikely that we’ll ever again hear of a huge, rich vein of gold being discovered unless its buried in a corner of the world that has remained undiscovered.

Most of gold is mined in China with the U.S. producing the second most tonnage.

Gold Has Caused a Lot of Trouble!

When Spain sent their soldiers to conquer the New World in the 16th century they thought that they would be sailing home with ships full of gold. Those ambitions were not fulfilled since the Incas and Mayans had more silver than gold. They got a mere 154 metric tons of gold but 7,440 metric tons of silver. To any normal person that would be an unbelievable fortune but for a country hoping to finance the conquest of the world it was very disappointing. Thousands of lives were lost in the looting.

In the 19th century the British went to war with the Ashanti tribe in Africa over a gold stool that was supposed to represent the power and authority of the tribal leader. The Ashanti King was exiled in 1896 and the British governor, Sir Frederick Hodgson, claimed that since the Queen had jurisdiction over the Ashanti territory the golden stool was her majesty’s property. He demanded the stool be delivered to his residence to be added to his furnishings. The tribe was stunned that anyone would even consider applying their backside to the sacred golden stool and the two sides went to war. After months of battling and thousands of deaths the British declared victory over the Ashanti tribe. But they never did lay hands—or their backsides—on that golden stool!

Does Gold Have Any Practical Uses?

Gold is more than just a pretty metal, it’s been used in dentistry for at least 3,000 years. Two molar teeth held together by gold wire were found in the ancient burial grounds at Giza. The first textbook on dentistry, published in Germany in 1530, suggested using gold leaf to fill cavities. Gold is completely compatible with the human body; no one is allergic to it or suffers any ill effects if it is on their body or used in their dental work. About 80 tons of gold is used each year for dental crowns, fillings, orthodontic appliances and dental bridges.

Gold has not been confined to dentistry but was used in Chinese medicine as far back as 2500 B.C. to remove mercury from human skin and to treat smallpox, skin ulcers, and furuncles (abscesses under the skin). Modern medical practitioners use gold salt injections to treat arthritis but it’s a slow process. Patients typically experience relief after 4-5 months of weekly injections.

There’s about a half dollar’s worth of gold in every cell phone. Before you start collecting old cell phones, though, be aware that industrial gold is not nearly as pure as the gold used for investment purposes. About $500 million in gold is used in cell phones annually. Gold is an excellent conductor and won’t corrode so it is used in most electronic devices including ordinary desktop and laptop computers.

Gold is not only a good conductor but a great reflector. Polyester film coated with gold is used on space vehicle to reflect radiation and stabilize core temperatures. It is also used to thinly coat the visors of astronauts’ helmets to protect them from the sun’s rays.

Most of us have seen photos of buildings like St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow that are topped by domes covered in gold. Gold is very soft and can be made into sheets as thin as a few millionths of an inch. These sheets are called gold leaf and can be applied to buildings no matter what the climate. Gold does not corrode and is easy to work with so it makes an excellent building material. The Sripuram Golden Temple in India is the biggest golden structure on earth and a truly incredible sight. The temple builders used 1.5 tons of gold leaf in its construction.

52% of gold is used in the jewelry business, 12% for industrial use and 34% is in investments and holdings. That leaves 2% unaccounted for. I’m sure we would all like to stumble across that “small” amount!

So you see, gold is a very versatile metal with more uses than people are aware of. The next time you need to start a conversation or break the ice you can use these entertaining and interesting facts. Investing in gold, though, is the best use of gold for the average person!

Did you enjoy this article? Share it!
  • no image available
  • no image available
  • no image available
  • no image available
  • no image available

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.