Everyone loves gold, whether it’s built into furniture, worn as jewelry, collected as coins, or even dusted onto fancy breakfast pastries. We love the way it looks, how it feels on the skin, and it just has a glam vibe that can’t be denied.
No matter where you go, you’ll find that all cultures have the same relationship with gold – they just can’t get enough. Plus, if you traveled back in time, you’ll discover the same attitudes have existed for hundreds – if not thousands of years. Gold has always had a big fan club.
But have you ever stopped to think what exactly makes gold so special and why we place so much value on it? Will it keep its value in the future? Why does it make for such great coins and jewelry?
There are a lot of factors that go into figuring out the value of goods and services in this world, but without diving into an entire economics lesson, let’s talk about why gold has been so valuable for so long, considering the main factors at play.
Get ready for a lesson on gold. Let’s go.
Social Construction Or Inherent Value?
To understand why we see gold as so valuable today, we need to take a little trip back into history to see how it was treated in the past. The science and economics we know today have not existed for more than a couple hundred years, yet humans have always thought that gold was something special.
We can reach all the way back to 2600 BCE, when ancient Mesopotamians were creating gold jewelry for people to wear and to use as ornamental décor for homes and palaces. Pharaohs were entombed in elaborate, all-gold coffins, and the first gold coins are thought to be from 700 BCE.
That’s right – gold has been a part of the human experience for over 5000 years at this point, and that’s just what the archeological record shows. There’s a chance that we’ve been mining and crafting this material for even longer, and it’s unlikely we’ll ever stop.
As a currency, gold hits all the right notes. There is a finite amount of it on the planet, and it’s difficult to extract from the earth, even with advanced modern mining processes. Imagine how tough it was to dig back in the day.
On top of that, it is portable (typically in coin or bar form) and can be made into jewelry that pretty much everyone wants to wear. Besides, it’s almost impossible to create convincing fake gold – you can identify the real deal with a glance.
There are some dark sides to the history of gold, as there’s a high death toll from the search of the metal, with some people literally going crazy in the process. Slave and prisoner labor were also used in ancient mining operations, but we see more ethical practices in modern times.
Today, gold plays a key role in global markets, acting as an alternative for the currencies of the world as a more steadfast and stable investment vehicle. Not feeling so confident in the stock market at the moment? Gold (and other precious metals) is a solid option to protect your money in times of turmoil.
The Look And Feel Everyone Wants
You can earn a finance degree, a master’s in geology, complete dozens of archeological digs, and you still won’t be able to figure out why people love gold so much. Sure, there are equations you can use to determine supply, demand, scarcity and availability, but number-crunching is only part of the bigger picture – gold is loved because it casts a spell on us that can’t be broken.
No matter who you are, where you were born, or what time you live in, there is a natural attraction to gold that none of us can deny. It looks fantastic in all settings, it shines in the sun, and it glistens in the moonlight.
Besides, marketing and culture at large have done a good job of reminding us how gold is a symbol of luxury and elegance. Just watch any commercial from the 20th century or flip through a magazine back in the day. Compare the messaging to modern advertisements, and you won’t see much of a significant difference.
The takeaway with gold is almost always the same – this stuff is in demand, and if you have it, you’re a part of a private club that only a few select people belong to. It’s thatexclusivity factor that appeals to the masses and keeps gold prices high. This metal is not for everyone, and that’s exactly what makes it so popular.
Remember, most forms of wealth cannot be broadcast to the public with such immediate effect. Your stocks and bonds are digital, and you can’t take a mansion to a restaurant. Gold is the way that people showcase that they’re loaded in an unmistakable visual display - and it works.
When you buy gold, you’re buying more than a simple metal crafted into a shape. You’re buying a lifestyle and a level of status that you can’t get anywhere else.
There’s no doubt that a psychological element comes into play here, which is why many economists suggest that gold is a less-than-legit investment. However, one quick look at the price of gold commodities will suggest otherwise – this metal is only becoming more precious with time, especially in uncertain market conditions.
With the social and economic aspects of gold covered, it’s worth taking a closer look at the unique scientific properties of gold and how they play into why we like this stuff so much.
For starters, gold is one of the few elements of the periodic table we actually bring up in daily conversation, and definitely the one that attracts the most attention. Copper and silver are fine, but they don’t hold a candle to shiny gold.
In all seriousness, gold does have distinctive chemical properties that set it apart from the rest of the world’s elements.
Gold is most known in the science world as a veryunreactive metal, which helps it be so durable and last so long. It also doesn’t rust and doesn’t tarnish.
Gold is malleable, meaning it can be melted down into pure molten form then turned into almost any shape. Thick gold bars, delicate gold jewelry, and even gold flakes that gourmet bakers sprinkle on expensive cupcakes. Yes, it can be eaten in small quantities. Just don’t get carried away when you’re feeling bougie.
The feel and texture of gold are also unique. Compared to diamonds – one of the toughest and most durable materials on the planet – gold is a soft material, less hard than the enamel of a tooth. That’s why you see characters in films and cartoons chomp on a piece of gold to assure its authenticity.
These aren’t magical qualities by any means – many other elements of the periodic table have similar traits – but the visual appeal of gold in conjunction with the scarcity and durability have placed it in a rare position that has been maintained for thousands of years.
The Best Choice For Jewelry
We get it – you want gold jewelry, and you’re not alone. The questions you should ask yourself is how you want to wear your gold, what pieces best compliment your look, and what to look for in a trustworthy merchant.
First off, know what you’re buying. Most often, you’ll find 14 karat or 18 karat gold, a measurement that indicates the purity of the material (24k being the highest). We suggest you stay within the 14 to 18 karat range when purchasinggold bracelets and rings, since they tend to hold their shape better and are easier to maintain.
Gold Vermeil is similar to gold plated jewelry, the main difference being the 925 sterling silver underneath the layer of vermeil. Most gold plated wares have brass or copper beneath, which is considered less desirable, although not dramatically different, visually.
It shouldn’t have to be said, but it’s worth a reminder: take care of your gold, especially if you wear it daily. Learn how to clean your Diamond Cuban Chain with care, for example, and make it last forever. Be sure to have a trusted online jeweler on your side who you can call and contact any time to get support and have your questions answered.
Browsing, buying, and wearing gold is something that you should enjoy. Now that you know the secrets behind its value, you can treat this precious metal with greater appreciation and get the most mileage out of every piece you buy.