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5 Facts Behind Gold’s Value over Centuries

5 Facts Behind Gold’s Value over Centuries
Gold 101
Zaynab Badr

October 25, 2023

Gold is a precious metal with a rich and complex history dating back thousands of years. It has been used as currency, jewelry, industrial material, and a safe haven by many civilizations.
In addition to the above uses, some characteristics of gold gave it an appeal that has been transmitted for centuries. In the list below, we narrowed down key facts to understand why gold has retained such an outstanding position.

Historical Background

1. Centuries-long appreciation for Gold’s value

For thousands of years, humans have been mesmerized by gold’s rarity, durability, and dazzling hue. 

Gold’s value and appeal have been admired by civilizations from the Chalcolithic period, dating back to 5000 BCE, to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. 

Ancient Egyptians revered gold for its power and impact, believing that it could protect them in the afterlife as it was associated with the sun god Ra and expressed a certain social status. This is evident in the staggering amount of gold found in King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Among thousands of artifacts, the inner coffin was composed of 110.4 kilograms (243 lb) of solid gold, while his mask was made of pure gold and weighed 11 km of gold.

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Meanwhile, the Ancient Greeks used gold to create jewelry and other decorative objects. In China, gold was commonly used to reward war men, and it was always a key element in traditional Chinese medicine.  

Scientific Background

2. Scientists revealing the unique properties of Gold

From ages as old as Aristotle, scientists made key gold discoveries, despite fewer tools and limited resources. They created techniques to refine gold to a high degree of purity.
Being ahead of his time, Aristotle wrote about gold’s unique properties in his book on Metals. He noted that gold is a very dense metal that is resistant to rust and observed that gold can be easily melted and shaped.

In 1766, Gold was named one of the noblest metals by Albrecht von Haller, a Swiss physician. In his published book “Elementa Chemiae”, he classified the elements into three categories: metals, semi-metals, and non-metals. He placed gold in the category of metals, and he noted that it was one of the least reactive (doesn’t interact with other metals easily)metals known. 
Consequently, this built a halo effect around gold as a scarce, prestigious, and highly regarded precious metal. To this day, the well-established weight of gold is used wisely and on distinguished occasions.

Cultural Background

3. The Inheritance of gifting gold habit

Gifting gold is a timeless tradition in many cultures. It is a custom that has been passed down for generations, and it is often associated with important life events.

In the Middle East, it’s a custom to gift gold ornaments on special occasions. Especially in Egypt, the almost official gift for newborns is a gold item with a lifelong value.
Besides gifting gold on other events like graduation, Mother’s Day, birthdays, retirements, and Eidya.

Eidya is an Arabic word representing a tradition that began in the 4th century and evolved from gold or silver coins to new clothes and cash gifts for children in the Mamluks and Ottoman times.

The habit seems not to be exclusive to the Middle East. In India, gold is a key part of Indian weddings, adorning the bride and groom. In addition, the newlyweds receive gold gifts to bring good luck. Gold coins are also customary gifts for the Diwali festival.

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Economic Background

4. The continuing growth of gold’s value and price 

Gold’s value has grown over time due to its scarcity and versatility. As a tangible asset, it has retained purchasing power and served as a stable form of exchange. Gold also holds its value in the long term and is recommended by many economists as a portfolio diversifier.

The value of gold has evolved year by year due to its limited quantity across the world and its different forms and contributions to the economy.

As a tangible asset, it has retained purchasing power and served as a stable form of exchange. Not to mention that in the modern world, Gold also holds its value in the long term and is recommended by many economists as a portfolio diversified.

In the recent couple of years, gold’s price fluctuated and both global and local markets witnessed a huge change. Below is a chart demonstrating the price of gold across years…

In general, gold is one of the unique commodities that are in unstoppable demand. And so, the interaction between supply and demand determines the price of Gold. Once there is an increase in gold demand, the price rises and vice versa.

Industrial Background

5. Gold’s value in almost all industries. 

Being a versatile metal, the industrial use of gold is growing, as gold becoming more widely used in new and innovative products. The discovery of its properties, such as its high electrical conductivity, resistance to corrosion, and biocompatibility made gold an effective metal in many usages. For example, gold is being used in the development of electronic products such as batteries, and solar cells, medical treatments such as dentistry, and aerospace productions.

Gold has a long and fascinating history, and it continues to play an important role in the world today. It’s an unavoidable asset as it shapes a different meaning from one person to another. For some, it is a symbol of wealth and status. For others, it is a valuable commodity with a wide range of industrial and commercial applications. And still, for others, it is a precious metal with many roots and cultural significance. Today, gold continues to play an important role in the global economy, and it is also a popular choice for many.

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