Gold wasn't always a precious metal for currency and trade. In the early days, it was just a decorative metal. Thanks to the ancient Egyptians, though, it turned into a standard of value in the Middle East and the world at large.
Throughout the ages, gold mass has typically appeared in one of two forms: gold bars and coins. Gold coins allow for trading smaller amounts, while gold bars allow for larger stores of value. The question is, how is gold made into these formats?
In the guide, we take a look at it all. Read on for a quick trip into the history and manufacturing of gold.
Where Is Gold Found?
Unfortunately, we have not yet figured out a cost-effective process to make gold artificially. Humans have tried in the past with alchemy and particle accelerators. The easiest way is still to mine it.
Gold, like most elements in the universe, formed after the Big Bang and supernovae. It collects into asteroids, which then break apart on planets. Billions of years ago, asteroids pummeled the Earth's crust and provided it with gold.
Gold is very heavy as an element. Over millions and billions of years, it eroded from the rock into deposits and veins deep in the Earth. Otherwise, it broke down into particles and flakes at the bottom of riverbeds.
Global Locations Where Gold Is Common
You can find gold in virtually every country in the world. However, certain locations have much larger deposits than others. Russia, Canada, South Africa, and Alaska are just a few examples of where gold is plentiful.
Types of Gold Ore
Gold is not always pure. It's sometimes alloyed with other metals and minerals, reducing its value. We can also produce gold alloys to make cheaper jewelry with high gold content.
Ore is gold in its natural form before humans melt it down or alloy it. You can find gold in the following natural mediums:
- Gold mixed with quartz stone
- Silver-gold ore
- Iron oxide with copper and gold ore
- Gold sulfide ore
- Blue clay gold ore
- Tellurium gold ore
- Gold arsenopyrite
- Granite gold ore
As you can see, gold has a tendency to mix with other minerals and elements. Miners will break up these rocks and extract the gold content. Pure gold nuggets are more rare.
Mining and Panhandling
The most effective way to acquire large amounts of gold is through mining. Miners either break it out of hard rock, aforementioned minerals, or as complete nuggets from the Earth. They then melt down these different types of gold into pure ingots or bullion -- which we'll discuss later.
Panhandling is another method, although far less efficient. Panhandlers lift sediment out of rivers and sift apart the dirt for flakes and grains of gold. Panhandling is more of a hobby, though, since it could take years to acquire any meaningful sum of gold.
Thus, gold is a finite resource. Once we mine it all, there will be none left. This is part of the reason why gold is so valuable in the first place.
Thankfully, though, gold lasts a long time and is easy to recycle. The vast majority of gold humanity has ever mined is still in circulation today!
Uses for Gold
Gold has primarily been a precious metal used to represent value in human economies. For this reason, cultures across the world have used gold as a medium for trade. To this day, the U.S. gold reserve carries several tons of gold as a store value.
Aside from currency, though, gold is very helpful with the following:
- Wires and electronics
- Aerospace applications and space travel
- Jewelry and decorations
Gold is useful in electronics because it conducts electricity better than any other metal. Although it's no longer as common in teeth fillings, it was because it does not rust or corrode. Gold is also exceptionally durable for airplanes and spacecraft that need to withstand extreme temperatures and radiation.
Aside from that, of course, people love it for its beautiful shine in jewelry and decorations.
Making Gold Mass into Bars and Coins
As incredible and desirable as gold is, its weight makes it challenging to use and move around. For this reason and others, humans for centuries have melted gold down into ingots (also known as bullion) or coins. This weight is used to test it for purity and to determine its value when selling it.
First, the miners melt gold to solidify it into a single gold mass and remove impurities. They then pour it into a mold and stamp it with the following info:
- An identification number
- Production company hallmark
The most valuable gold is 99.99% pure. This means there are negligible, trace amounts of impurities in the metal. Gold miners and manufacturers will sell these raw ingots to other companies that process them further.
Making Gold Bars
Gold bars come in many different sizes, from tiny one-gram bars to 400-ounce bars. This allows investors to fine-tune their gold collection to the exact amount that they want. Gold doesn't naturally have that characteristic shine. To make it glossy, gold manufacturers will roll it down from thicker ingots until it's reflective. From there, they cut out the bars and stamp them with their hallmark. Gold often has a higher value when trustworthy and world-renowned companies make it.
Making Gold Coins
Coins are less common, given that countries no longer use them as legal tender. Instead, coins serve as decorative and memorial pieces, such as award and membership coins. Same as bars, coins are rolled into long strips. Manufacturers then cut coins out and stamp them.
Buy Gold Bars from the United States Gold Bureau
Raw gold mass arrived on planet Earth from asteroids, which we mine and make into gold bars and coins. These are easy, efficient ways to store and trade gold. People can purchase these types of gold to sell or keep for investment.