For better or for worse, gold has played a role in history since the beginning of time – inspiring explorations, fueling wars and moving economies. For the everyday person, gold is likely most accessible in the form of attractive jewelry, but where did this metal, described by ancient Egyptians as the “breathe of god,” come from, and why is it so coveted?
In a very simple explanation, gold was formed in the galaxy through a process of nuclear fusion more complexly known as supernova nucleosyntheesis. As the first stars burned with nuclear fires, they eventually burned into supernovas. As the energy from these explosions was released, eventually atoms of gold were also created and reached the earth’s surface. Earth, originating in a molten state, carried much of the gold present into its planetary core. Gold that is present in the Earth’s crust and mantle was likely carried by asteroid impacts. A more recent theory suggests that gold is created through the collision of neutron stars.
Gold was and still is considered a highly desirable metal due to its rarity, durability, malleability and beauty. Another factor that makes gold special is that it can be easily alloyed with other metals to form different shades of gold, such as white and even rose gold. As most people know, gold is naturally a yellow hue, however, when it is mixed with more copper, the gold becomes a rosier, pink color, aptly referred to as rose gold. When it is mixed with nickel and/or palladium, it becomes a silver color, known as white gold.
Most people are probably familiar with the different karat (k) descriptions of gold - commonly 14k, 18k and 24k - but what do they mean? Because pure gold is too soft to wear as jewelry, gold is often mixed with other metals. The higher the karat number, the higher the amount of actual gold is in the metal. For example, 24 k gold is 100% gold, 18 k is 75% gold, and 14k is 58.3% gold.
Historical, valuable and beautiful – gold is here to stay and likely to continue to withstand the test of time.