13 Uses for Gold: Traditional and Less Typical Uses – from Jewelry to Space Technology and Clothes

This is an extensive overview in 13 parts about how gold is used – from jewelry to space technology and clothes; also: currency, electronics, optics, dental, medicine, cosmetics, architecture, decorative arts, gastronomy, heraldics, clothes and others (culture and religion).

Jump right to the article below.

Infographic about the uses of gold:

Infographic - gold uses from jewelry and currency to space technology and clothes.
Infographic – gold uses from jewelry and currency to space technology and clothes.

Introduction

Beautiful female astronaut protected by a space suit with a golden visor.
Female astronaut protected by a space suit with a golden visor.

Gold is a versatile metal that has been used for various purposes throughout history. It’s not just a shiny object that people wear around their necks. This precious metal, known for its lustrous beauty and malleability, has been woven into the fabric of human civilization in ways that extend far beyond jewelry. Its unique properties have made it a versatile and invaluable material in a multitude of sectors, from technology to optics, and even in space exploration.

Jewelry was in 2022 the highest contributer to gold demand with a share of 45% (see the table below). Followed by 25% for bars and coins. 23% of the gold flew to central banks and other insitutions. Ony 6% of the gold was used in technology.

Table of Gold Demand 2022:

Type Tonnes Share
Jewelry 2,190 46%
Bars and coins 1,218 26%
Central banks and other institutions 1,136 24%
Technology 309 7%
ETFs and similar products outflows -110 -2%
Total demand in 2022 4,743 100%

Source: Source: Metals Focus, Refinitiv GFMS, World Gold Council

In this guide, we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of gold usage. We’ll start by exploring its first use case, namely jewelry; from its role as a form of currency in ancient civilizations until contemporary time. From there, we’ll delve into the myriad of modern applications of gold. We’ll look at how it’s used in medicine, dentistry and cosmentics, where its nanoparticles are harnessed for targeted drug delivery, and in technology and optics, where its excellent conductivity makes it a crucial component of many electronic devices. We’ll even explore its use in the culinary world, architecture, decorative arts, clothes and even its use in heraldry.

Here is a table with interesting facts about gold and its uses:

Use Category Interesting Fact
Jewelry jewelry is probaly the earliest use case for gold.
Currency The largest gold coin ever created was cast by the Perth Mint in Australia; it weighs one tonne and is worth over $50 million.
Electronics A single ounce of gold can be stretched into a gold thread 5 miles long.
Dentistry Gold has been used in dentistry for over 2,500 years.
Medicine a Gold eyelid implant is used in the treatment of a condition called lagophthalmos, which is an inability to close the eyes completely.
Cosmetics Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, reportedly slept in a gold mask every night to enhance her complexion.
Optics The visor of an astronaut’s helmet is coated with a thin layer of gold to filter out the sun’s harmful rays.
Gastronomy The most expensive burger in the world, the “Glamburger”, is garnished with gold leaf. It was sold in 2014 for around $1.500.
Architecture The dome of the Colorado State Capitol building in Denver is covered in gold leaf.
Decorative Arts The “Mask of Tutankhamun”, an artifact from ancient Egypt, is made of gold.
Clothing In India, a man has a shirt made entirely of gold that weighs over 3 kg (6.6 lb), worth $250.000.

Part 1: Gold in Jewelry

Gold in jewelry is believed to be the first use of gold.

The oldest gold jewelry discovered in the world is believed to be from the Varna Necropolis from 6,500 years ago. The gold pendant discovered had a fineness of 24 karat gold. This is a burial site in Bulgaria dating back to the Chalcolithic period (Copper Age). The Varna Necropolis is considered one of the most important prehistoric archaeological sites in the world.

Roman triple gold ring from 300-400 AC (The Met)
Roman triple gold ring from 300-400 AC (The Met).

5000 years ago, Sumerian civilization also used gold jewelry. Since then, gold has been a symbol of wealth, power, and beauty in many cultures around the world. Here are a few notable examples:

  • In Ancient Egypt, gold was considered the skin of the gods, particularly the sun god, Ra. Pharaohs and temple priests used gold jewelry as a symbol of their divine status.
  • In Ancient Rome, gold jewelry, especially rings were a popular piece of jewelry among men, women and children. Women also wore necklaces, earrings and bracelets.
  • The Mesoamerican civilizations, such as the Incas and Aztecs, valued gold for its aesthetic and religious significance. They crafted intricate gold jewelry and offered gold artifacts to their gods.
  • In India, gold has been integral to many rituals and celebrations, such as weddings, where brides are adorned with beautiful gold jewelry.

Read more about the use of gold by ancient civilizations in the article history of gold.

Understanding the Purity of Gold

The purity of gold is measured in karats, with 24 karats representing pure gold. However, pure gold is too soft for daily wear, so it’s often alloyed with other metals to increase its strength. Common types of gold in jewelry include 10K, 14K, 18K, and 22K, with the remaining percentage made up of metals like copper, zinc, nickel, or silver. A 10 karat gold alloy contains 10/24 percent gold, which is 41.7% gold. 9k is the least pure commonly used for gold jewelry in Europe and the United States. (Until recently 10k was lowest allowed purity in the United States. This has been lowered to 9k in 2018.) And 18k is the most popular choice.

Types of Gold in Jewelry

Check out the video that shows how to make gold jewelry:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vyzCQ7Y78

Gold jewelry comes in various types, each with unique characteristics:

  • Yellow gold: The most traditional form, a mix of gold, silver, and copper. Known for its warm, rich hue and resistance to tarnish.
  • White gold: An alloy of gold and white metals like palladium or nickel, often coated with rhodium for extra shine and durability.
  • Rose gold: A romantic pink-toned metal, created by combining gold with a higher ratio of copper.

There is also black gold (with sulfur oxygen), green gold (with silver, copper and zinc), purple gold (with aluminum) and blue gold (with iron).

Gold Jewelry Around the World

Gold jewelry holds significant importance in many cultures. In India, gold is traditionally used in wedding jewelry, symbolizing wealth and prosperity. In China, gold jewelry is often gifted during New Year celebrations. Meanwhile, in the Middle East, gold jewelry is both a status symbol and a form of financial security.

Chinese New Year gold decoration and jewelry.
Chinese New Year gold decoration and jewelry.

Popular Gold Jewelry Items

Gold is used to create a wide variety of jewelry items:

  • Rings: Gold rings, from simple bands to intricate gemstone-studded designs, are timeless.
  • Necklaces: Gold chains and pendants can range from delicate to statement-making.
  • Earrings: Gold earrings come in various styles, including minimalist studs, elegant hoops, and dramatic chandeliers.
  • Bracelets: Gold bracelets, like bangles and chain bracelets, add a touch of luxury to any outfit.

Caring for Gold Jewelry

Maintaining your gold jewelry’s luster involves proper care:

  • Storage: When not in use, store your gold pieces in a cool, dry place, preferably in a soft cloth bag to avoid scratches.
  • Cleaning: Regular cleaning can help maintain your gold jewelry’s shine. A simple solution of warm water and mild dish soap, along with a soft brush, can gently remove any dirt or residue. There are also cleaning solutions specifically for gold jewelry.
  • Protection: It’s advisable to remove gold jewelry before showering or swimming to prevent tarnishing from soap or chlorine.

In conclusion, whether you’re drawn to the classic allure of yellow gold, the modern sophistication of white gold, or the romantic charm of rose gold, there’s a piece of gold jewelry to suit everyone’s taste.

Part 2: Gold as a Currency

Gold as a currency is historically the second most important use of gold, right after the use as jewelry.

The Brasher Doubloon, the first gold coin minted in the United States in 1787 by Ephraim Brasher.
The Brasher Doubloon, the first gold coin minted in the United States in 1787 by Ephraim Brasher.

Gold has played an important role in the international monetary system throughout history. Here are some key points about gold as currency:

  • Gold coins were first struck on the order of King Croesus of Lydia around 700 BC and circulated as currency in many countries before the introduction of paper money.
  • Once paper money was introduced, currencies still maintained an explicit link to gold, with the paper being exchangeable for gold on demand.
  • In Europe, gold coins spread in the 13th century. First in modern day Italy: Venetian gold Ducate and the Florin in 1284 and 1252 respectively. The first English gold coin was als the Florin (1284). The French minted the Écu d’or (1266).
  • In the United States, gold coins were first created in 1795 by the US Mint. (However, a couple of years earlier, in 1787, the first gold coin was minted by the goldsmith Ephraim Brasher).
  • Gold coins are still produced today, but mainly as bullion coins for investors and as commemorative coins for collectors
  • While modern gold coins are still legal tender, they are not observed in everyday financial transactions, as the metal value normally exceeds the nominal value.
Gold coin from the Kingdom of Lydia, ca 550 BC
Gold coin from the Kingdom of Lydia, ca 550 BC (wikipedia/ CNG CC BY-SA 3.0).

Famous gold coins throughout history:

Coin Name Description
Lydia’s Lion Coins The first gold coins in history, struck in Lydia around 600 BC. Made of an alloy of gold and silver, featuring a lion’s head.
Persian Daric A gold coin from the Achaemenid Empire, introduced by Darius I in the late 6th century BC. Often featured a king or hero in a kneeling-running position holding a spear.
Roman Aureus A gold coin of ancient Rome, issued from the 1st century BC to the beginning of the 4th century AD. Replaced by the solidus.
Solidus A gold coin used in the Byzantine Empire and later throughout Europe for more than 800 years. Introduced by Constantine I in AD 312.
Florin A gold coin struck in Florence, Italy, in 1252. Widely copied by other European countries due to its reliable gold content and the stability of the Florentine economy.
Doubloon A gold coin used in Spain and Spanish America from the 16th to the 19th century. Worth two escudos.
Krugerrand A South African gold coin, first minted in 1967. Containing exactly one troy ounce of gold, the Krugerrand was intended to provide a vehicle for private gold ownership for individuals and played a key role in the gold market.

The Gold Standard

The gold standard was a monetary system in which the value of a country’s currency was directly linked to gold.

  • By the late 19th Century, many of the world’s major currencies were fixed to gold at a set price per ounce, under the ‘Gold Standard’ and this persisted in different forms for about one hundred years.
  • Under the gold standard, countries agreed to convert paper money into a fixed amount of gold. That fixed price was used to determine the value of the currency.

The gold standard was abandoned due to its propensity for volatility, as well as the constraints it imposed on governments. It gave the governments very little discretion to use monetary policy, making economies on the gold standard less able to avoid or recover from recessions.

It is worth noting that the amount of gold reserves a country holds does not necessarily correlate directly with its overall wealth or economic strength. Factors such as GDP, natural resources, and other assets also contribute to a country’s overall wealth.

Part 3: Gold in Electronics

Gold’s Role in Electronic Devices

Gold in electronics, here in a circuit board.
Gold in electronics, here in a circuit board.

Gold is a highly efficient conductor. It can carry tiny currents and remain free of corrosion, making it a valuable material in numerous electronic devices.

Around 10% of gold production goes into electronics.

Gold’s properties, including its high conductivity of electricity and heat, along with its resistance to tarnish and corrosion, make it an ideal material for various components in electronic devices. These include:

  • Switches: Gold’s excellent conductivity makes it ideal for switches in electronic devices.
  • Connectors: Gold connectors ensure efficient transmission of signals between different parts of a device.
  • Wire: Gold wire is used in many electronic devices due to its high conductivity and resistance to corrosion.

As gold does not corrode or tarnish, making it ideal for use in precision electronic equipment such as GPS units, TVs, cell phones, and calculators.

Why Gold is Used in Electronics

The use of gold in electronics is not just a matter of luxury or expense. Gold has several key properties that make it an excellent metal for use in electronics:

  • Conductivity: Gold is a very good conductor of electricity, which means it can carry current very efficiently.
  • Corrosion resistance: Gold does not corrode or tarnish, which makes it ideal for long-term use in electronics.
  • Malleability: Gold is a very malleable metal, which means it can be made into very thin wires or sheets, often needed in electronic devices.

Gold in Computer Components

Gold is used in many different parts of a computer, from the motherboard to the connector ports. Here are a few examples:

  • Motherboards: Gold is often used in the connectors on a motherboard, as it is a good conductor and does not corrode.
  • Memory Chips: Gold is used in the connectors of memory chips for the same reasons.
  • Connector Ports: The connector ports for peripherals such as keyboards, mice, and printers often use gold for the connectors.

Gold in Smartphone Manufacturing

In the world of smartphones, gold is a crucial component. It’s used in everything from circuit boards to SIM card holders. Here’s how:

  • Circuit Boards: Gold is used in the circuit boards of smartphones because it does not corrode and is an excellent conductor of electricity.
  • SIM Card Holders: The holders for SIM cards in smartphones are often made of gold because it is durable and does not corrode.

In addition, gold is also used in the manufacturing of other smartphone components such as:

  • Battery Connectors: Gold is used in the connectors that link the battery to the smartphone’s circuit.
  • Audio Jacks: The audio jacks in smartphones often use gold due to its excellent conductivity and resistance to corrosion.
Gold in audio jacks used for the better conductivity.
Gold in audio jacks used for the better conductivity.

While gold is used in electronics, it’s important to note that the amount of gold in individual electronic devices is relatively small. The primary reason for using gold in electronics is its superior conductivity and reliability compared to other metals.

Additionally, the recycling of electronic devices can recover small amounts of gold, along with other precious metals like silver, platinum, and palladium

In conclusion, gold’s unique properties make it an invaluable resource in the world of electronics and computing. Its excellent conductivity, resistance to corrosion, and malleability ensure that it plays a crucial role in keeping our electronic devices running smoothly.

Part 4: Gold in Optics

Gold, due to its unique properties, plays a significant role in the field of optics. This chapter explores the various applications of gold in optics, including its use in optical devices and coatings, its reflectivity, and its role in infrared systems.

Gold coated mirror intended for space (NASA).
Gold coated mirror intended for space (NASA).

The Role of Gold in Optical Devices

Gold is used in a variety of optical devices due to its excellent reflectivity and resistance to tarnish. These devices range from telescopes, where gold coatings on mirrors enhance their ability to reflect light, to microscopes, and even certain types of eyewear. For instance, high-end sunglasses often use gold coatings to reduce glare and enhance visual comfort.

The Use of Gold in Optical Coatings

Gold is a popular choice for optical coatings due to its high reflectivity, especially in the infrared part of the spectrum. Gold coatings can be applied to a variety of surfaces, including glass and metal, to improve their optical properties.

  • Gold coatings are used in the production of high-quality mirrors used in telescopes, enhancing their light reflection capabilities.
  • Gold coatings on windows can help reflect up to infrared radiation, keeping buildings cooler and reducing energy costs
  • Gold is used in thin film coatings for its anti-reflective properties, improving the performance of various optical devices by reducing glare and enhancing image quality
  • Gold-plated connectors are unique within the world of fiber optics and offer important benefits to this particular application. For example, gold plating of fiber optic tips promotes signal transfer, maximizing transfer capabilities within fiber optic cables
  • Reflectivity: Gold is an excellent choice of coating for scanner mirrors or mirrors used off-axis because reflectivity is almost independent of the angle of incidence. Electroplated gold coating has excellent and consistent reflectivity in the infrared and good reflectivity in the visible, which allows the easy use of red alignment lasers.

The Use of Gold in Infrared Systems

Gold’s high reflectivity in the infrared part of the spectrum makes it an excellent material for use in infrared systems. Gold coatings can effectively reflect infrared radiation, making them useful in a variety of applications.

  • Gold is used in the production of infrared reflectors for its ability to reflect infrared radiation efficiently.
  • Gold coatings on spacecraft help reflect infrared radiation, controlling the temperature inside the spacecraft and reducing the risk of overheating.
  • Gold is used in the production of infrared detectors for its high reflectivity in the infrared spectrum, improving the sensitivity of these devices.
  • Gold mirrors are the most reliable way of maintaining polarization, making them ideal for metal cutting and other polarization-sensitive applications.

The Future of Gold in Optics

The future of gold in optics looks promising, with ongoing research into new applications and technologies. Gold nanoparticles, for example, are being studied for their potential use in optical devices due to their unique optical properties.

  • Gold nanoparticles are being studied for their potential use in optical devices, such as sensors and imaging systems.
  • Research is being conducted into the use of gold in photonic devices, which use light instead of electricity to perform their functions. Early studies suggest that gold could improve the efficiency of these devices.

In conclusion, gold’s unique optical properties make it a valuable material in the field of optics. As research continues, the role of gold in optics is set to expand even further.

Part 5: Gold in Space Technology

In the realm of aerospace technology, gold is used in various applications due to its unique properties. It’s highly resistant to corrosion, an excellent conductor of electricity, and has a high reflectivity of infrared radiation, making it ideal for various applications in this field.

The Role of Gold in Space Technology

Figure 5: Gold coated astronaut's visor to protect from the solar radiation in space.
Figure 5: Gold coated astronaut’s visor to protect from the solar radiation in space.

Gold coated astronaut’s visor to protect from the solar radiation in space.

Space technology also benefits significantly from the use of gold. Its resistance to corrosion, excellent reflectivity of infrared radiation, and high electrical conductivity make it an ideal material for various applications in space exploration.

  • Space Suits: Astronauts’ visors are coated with a thin layer of gold to protect them from the harmful effects of solar radiation in space. This gold coating reflects the intense sunlight, allowing astronauts to work in space without being blinded by the light.
  • Spacecraft Windows: Gold is used in the windows of spacecraft to reflect solar radiation, helping to control the temperature inside the spacecraft. This is crucial for the survival of astronauts and the functioning of onboard instruments.
  • Awards and Status Symbols: Gold is used in awards and status symbols in the aerospace industry. For example, the visor on an astronaut’s space suit helmet is coated with a thin film of gold to reflect intense solar radiation.

Gold in Rocket and Satellite Manufacturing

Gold Coating of James Webb Space Telescope (Wikipedia/ NASA)
Gold Coating of James Webb Space Telescope (Wikipedia/ NASA).

Gold’s unique properties make it an invaluable resource in satellite manufacturing. It’s used in everything from circuit boards to thermal insulation. Here’s how:

  • Circuit Boards: Gold is used in the circuit boards of satellites because it does not corrode and is an excellent conductor of electricity. This ensures reliable transmission of signals, which is crucial for the functioning of the satellite.
  • Thermal Insulation: Satellites are often wrapped in to reflect infrared radiation and help control the satellite’s temperature. This protects the satellite’s sensitive instruments from the harsh conditions of space.
  • Connector Ports: The connector ports for various satellite components often use gold for the connectors due to its excellent conductivity and resistance to corrosion. This ensures a reliable connection, which is crucial for the functioning of the satellite.
  • Lubrication: In the vacuum of space, organic lubricants would break down under intense radiation. Gold, with its low shear strength, is used as a lubricant between mechanical parts in space technology. A thin film of gold allows the gold molecules to slip past one another, providing lubrication and reducing friction.

Whether it’s in the circuitry of a satellite, the visor of an astronaut’s helmet, or the windows of a spacecraft, gold is a key player in our exploration of the skies and beyond.

Part 6: Gold in Dental Procedures

The Role of Gold in Dentistry

Gold has been a staple in dentistry for centuries due to its unique properties. It is malleable, making it easy to shape into fillings, crowns, and bridges. Moreover, it is resistant to corrosion and bacteria, ensuring the longevity of dental restorations.

Gold in Dental Restorations

Gold use for dental inlays
Gold use for dental inlays (Wikipedia/ Bin im Garten CC BY-SA 3.0).

Gold has been a preferred material for dental restorations for a long time. The first known example of using dental crowns dates back 4,000 years in the Philippines. Dentists of those times used gold as caps and tooth replacement. In Europe, the oldest use of gold in dentristry dates back to 700 BC in Italy to fasten tooth replacements to the natural teeth.

Here are some of the ways gold is used in dental restorations:

  • Fillings: Gold fillings, also known as inlays or onlays, are used to restore parts of a tooth damaged by decay or injury. They are durable and can withstand the forces of chewing and biting. Gold fillings are often preferred for their durability and comfort.
  • Crowns: Gold crowns are used to cover a damaged tooth or an implant. They provide strength and protection to the tooth while maintaining a comfortable fit. Gold crowns are known for their durability and are often used for back teeth where the forces from chewing and grinding are most prevalent.
  • Bridges: Gold bridges are used to replace one or more missing teeth. They are durable and provide a comfortable fit. Gold bridges can last many years with proper care.

Gold Alloys in Dentistry

Pure gold is too soft for some dental applications, so it is often mixed with other metals to increase its strength. These gold alloys are typically a mixture of gold, copper, and other metals. The resulting alloy retains the beneficial properties of gold while being much stronger and more durable.

Gold alloys are used in various dental applications, including:

  • Crowns: Gold alloy crowns provide the strength needed for long-lasting dental restorations.
  • Bridges: Gold alloy bridges offer a combination of durability and comfort, making them an excellent choice for replacing missing teeth.
  • Orthodontic appliances: Gold alloys are often used in orthodontic appliances due to their strength and resistance to corrosion.

The Popularity of Gold in Dentistry

Gold was a popular choice in dentistry until the 1970s. After which the demand for dental gold faded. However, recently gold regained popularity due to health concerns regarding other dental materials (other metals, plastic etc.).

The future of gold in dentistry looks promising. With advancements in dental technology, the applications of gold in dental procedures are expanding. Researchers are exploring the use of gold nanoparticles in dental applications, such as in the treatment of dental infections and in the development of new types of dental restorative materials.

Part 7: Gold in Medical Treatments and Diagnostics

During the Middle Ages, gold was frequently regarded as a substance that could promote good health. The rationale behind this belief was that something as precious and beautiful as gold could only be beneficial. This perspective is still held by some modern esoteric practitioners and alternative medicine proponents, who attribute healing properties to metallic gold.

In the 19th century, gold was reputed to have anxiolytic properties and was used as a treatment for various nervous disorders. Conditions such as depression, epilepsy, migraines, and glandular issues like amenorrhea and impotence were addressed with gold. Most notably, it was employed in the treatment of alcoholism.

Gold nanoparticles (GNPs) have shown great potential in medical treatments and diagnostics. Here are some key points about the use of gold in medical treatments and diagnostics.

Gold nanoparticle solution.
Gold nanoparticle solution (wikipedia/ Valeg96 CC BY-AS 4.0).

The Role of Gold in Drug Delivery Systems

Gold nanoparticles are being extensively studied for their potential in drug delivery systems. They are capable of carrying various therapeutic agents and delivering them directly to the target tissues, thereby reducing non-specific side effects and enabling higher dose delivery:

  • Ease of Synthesis: Gold nanoparticles are easy to synthesize, making them a popular choice for drug delivery systems. They can be functionalized with various ligands to target specific cells or tissues.
  • Biocompatibility: Gold nanoparticles are biocompatible and generally non-toxic, making them a safe choice for drug delivery systems. They can be easily excreted from the body through the urinary system.
  • Large Biomolecules Delivery: Gold nanoparticles are capable of delivering large biomolecules, such as proteins and nucleic acids, without restricting themselves as carriers of only small molecular drugs.
  • Targeted Drug Delivery: Gold nanoparticles can be functionalized with specific ligands to target specific cells or tissues, improving the efficacy of drug delivery. This targeted delivery system can reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and improve the effectiveness of cancer treatment.
  • Dual Delivery: Gold nanoparticles can be used for dual delivery of multiple drugs to cancer cells. This approach can improve the efficacy of chemotherapy and reduce the side effects of treatment.
  • Surface Modification: The surface of gold nanoparticles can be easily modified to incorporate an array of ligands for drug delivery. This modification can improve the stability, payloads capacity, and cellular uptake of gold nanoparticles.

Overall, gold nanoparticles have unique properties that make them a promising material for drug delivery systems. Their ease of synthesis, biocompatibility, and targeted drug delivery capabilities make them a safe and effective choice for drug delivery. However, further research is needed to fully understand their potential and ensure their safe and effective use.

Gold’s Role in Diagnostic Tests

Due to their small size, biocompatibility, high atomic number, and the ability to bind targeting agents, gold nanoparticles have potential as contrast agents. They provide better contrast than iodine, allowing for improved definition of heavily vascularised tumours. This can increase the accuracy of tumour diagnosis and staging, and aid in radiotherapy planning.

The Use of Gold in Cancer Treatment

Gold nanoparticles are emerging as promising agents for cancer therapy. They are being investigated as drug carriers, photothermal agents and contrast agents. For instance, GNPs have been used in thermal therapy, where they are specifically targeted to tumour cells and heated using a laser, causing irreversible tissue damage and leading to the death of the tumour cells.

The Use of Gold in Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis

Gold therapy involves the use of gold salts, which have anti-inflammatory properties, to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Gold therapy is typically used in patients who have not responded to other treatments, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or cortisone-like drugs. Overall, gold therapy has been used for many years in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. While it can be effective in some patients, it can also cause severe side effects and is not suitable for everyone.

While gold nanoparticles hold promise in medical treatments and diagnostics, further research is needed to fully understand their potential and ensure their safe and effective use.

Note: The information provided here is based on the research available as of the time of writing. Always consult with a healthcare provider for medical advice.

Part 8: Gold in Cosmetics

Gold on face.
Gold on face.

The Benefits of Gold in Skincare

Gold, particularly in the form of nanoparticles, has been increasingly incorporated into skincare products due to its unique properties. It is believed to provide several benefits, including:

  • Luxurious Active Ingredient: Gold is a luxurious active ingredient in cosmetics, adding a touch of luxury to skincare products.
  • Reduces Inflammation: Gold has anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce inflammation and redness in the skin.
  • Biocompatibility: Gold nanoparticles are biocompatible and generally non-toxic, making them a safe choice for cosmetics.
  • Anti-Aging Properties: Some people believe gold to have anti-aging properties and can help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Encourages Skin Healing: Some think, gold can encourage skin healing and regeneration, making it a valuable ingredient in skincare products

The Process of Making Gold-Infused Cosmetics

Gold in cosmetics.
Gold in cosmetics.

In cosmetics, gold is usually used in colloidal form (gold solution in water) or as fine gold particles. These particles are then incorporated into various cosmetic formulations, from moisturizers and sunscreens to eye creams and lip balms. The process of making gold-infused cosmetics involves careful formulation and testing to ensure the safety and efficacy of the final product.

Popular Gold-Infused Cosmetic Products in the Market

Several cosmetic brands have introduced gold-infused products to the market. For instance, the L’Oreal L’Core Paris 24k Collection claims to use gold in its formulations. Other brands, such as Estee Lauder, have also entered the Nanomarket with a range of products that make use of nanoparticles, including gold. These products range from skincare to makeup, offering consumers a touch of luxury in their daily beauty routines.

Gold treatments at Spa Centers

Gold treatment at the spa.
Gold treatment at the spa.

Gold facial treatments, offered at many spa centers, make use of the unique properties of gold. The treatments often involve applying a mask of gold leaf to the face, which is then massaged into the skin. The gold is believed to stimulate cellular growth, leading to firmer, younger-looking skin. These treatments are often priced at a premium due to the cost of gold and the specialized techniques involved in their application.

The Future of Gold in Cosmetics

The use of gold in cosmetics is expected to continue to grow, with ongoing research into the benefits of gold nanoparticles in cosmetic products and creams. However, it’s important to note that while gold is generally considered safe for topical use, its effects can vary depending on factors such as the size, concentration, and frequency of application of the gold particles.

As such, consumers are advised to use gold-infused cosmetics with caution and to consult with a dermatologist if any adverse reactions occur. As research continues, we can expect to see even more innovative uses for gold in the field of cosmetics.

Part 9: Gold in Gastronomy

Edible gold is a type of food-safe ingredient that is used as a decoration in gastronomy. It has been a part of gastronomy for centuries.

All varieties of edible gold (powder, flakes, sheets) have no taste.

Donut wrapped in edible gold foil.
Donut wrapped in edible gold foil.

The History of Gold in Food and Drinks

The use of gold in food and drinks has roots in ancient civilizations:

  • The Egyptians believed that consuming gold could help them gain favor with the gods.
  • In medieval Europe, gold was often used as a decorative element in lavish feasts hosted by the nobility.
  • In Japan, gold leaf has been used to decorate food and sake for centuries.

In the early fifteenth century and beyond, several chefs recorded their recipes for meals including precious metals and stones.

  • The Europeans have a very old tradition in using edible gold on food. Italian Dukes and Earls used to decorate their risotto with edible gold leaves in the 16th century.
  • The purpose of using edible gold has varied throughout history. Based on the region and era, edible gold was believed to hold spiritual purification, rejuvenation, and/or medical capabilities.
  • Others simply felt that edible gold was food meant for royalty

Nowadays, edible gold is mainly used as a decorative ingredient in gastronomy, and it can be found in many dishes and beverages, such as cakes, sweet desserts, soups, pastas, risottos, sushi, cocktails, and wines.

Luxe Rose, an alcoholic drink with gold flakes.
Luxe Rose, an alcoholic drink with gold flakes (wikipedia/ Leila White CC-BY SA 3.0).

The Process of Making Edible Gold

Edible gold is made from pure gold (23-24 carats) that has been pounded into thin sheets or flakes. Edible gold leaf is made by melting pure gold at over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and pouring it into a bar formation. The bar is then stretched very thinly through rollers until a certain point, where it is then pounded down until it is the thickness of .0001 millimeters.

It’s crucial to note that the gold used for edible purposes is not the same as the gold used in jewelry, which may contain other metals and can be toxic if consumed.

The Safety of Consuming Gold

Gold is considered safe to consume in small quantities. It is chemically inert, meaning it won’t break down during digestion, and it is not absorbed into the bloodstream. Instead, it passes through the body and is eliminated as waste.

  • Gold is chemically inert, meaning it won’t break down during digestion, and it is not absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • It is recommended to consume gold only on special occasions due to the lack of extensive research on its effects.

Gold and silver are classified as food coloring in the European Union with the numbers E175 and E174.

Popular Gold-Infused Dishes and Drinks

Gold sushi: sushi wrapped in gold foil.
Gold sushi: sushi wrapped in gold foil.

Gold-infused dishes and drinks have become a trend in recent years, with gold sushi and gold doughnuts becoming viral sensations on social media. Gold is often used as a garnish, adding a touch of luxury to the dish or drink. Popular dishes with edible gold are: Cakes, Eclairs, Meringues, Macarons, Ice cream, Chocolates, Cocktails.

Part 10: Gold in Architecture

Modern house with a golden facade.
Modern house with a golden facade.

Gold has been used in architecture primarily for decoration, as it is not an ideal building material due to its high cost and malleability. However, gilding with precious metals like gold and silver has been used to stunning effect in both exterior and interior architecture and design throughout history and all across the world.

Gold leaf has long been associated with the divine in religious art and architecture, symbolizing the spiritual significance of the decoration. Even today, gilded decoration is prominent in religious buildings such as churches, mosques, and temples.
In modern and contemporary architectural design, gold continues to play a significant role. It is used to accentuate details and craftsmanship, signifying prominence. Gold continues to be a significant detail in art and architecture today.

Techniques and Impacts of Architectural Gilding

Kinkaku-ji Temple of the golden pavilion in Kyoto, Japan.
Kinkaku-ji Temple of the golden pavilion in Kyoto, Japan (unsplash/ Ice Tea).

Architectural gilding is a decorative technique involving the application of a thin sheet of gold or other metal leaf to a surface. This results in a lustrous finish that draws the viewer’s eye and elevates the viewing experience. Gilding can be found on a variety of decorative objects, from picture frames and furniture to sculptures and ceramics, enhancing the viewer’s perception of value and importance.

Iconic Gold-Enhanced Buildings and Architectural Styles

Dome of the rocks in Jerusalem, Israel.
Dome of the rocks with a golden dome in Jerusalem, Israel (unsplash/ Raimond Klavins).

There are numerous iconic buildings and architectural styles that feature gold. These include the gleaming domes of government buildings and sacred spaces, as well as other landmarks.

  • The Dome of Rocks – with a gold covered roof in Jerusalem.
  • Shwedagon Pagoda – Located in Myanmar, the Shwedagon Pagoda is adorned with gold leaf, giving it a majestic and shimmering appearance
  • Golden Temple – Situated in Amritsar, India, the Golden Temple is covered in gold plating, creating a stunning reflection in the surrounding pool
  • The Museum Of Gold – Found in Colombia, this museum showcases a collection of gold artifacts and is itself covered in gold leaf, making it a striking architectural landmark
  • The Grand Palace – Located in Thailand, the Grand Palace features intricate gold detailing on its buildings and temples, reflecting the opulence of Thai architecture
Shwedagon golden temple in Yangon, Myanmar
Shwedagon golden temple in Yangon, Myanmar (unsplash/ Ko Ko Myoe).

These buildings demonstrate the use of gold in architecture for decorative purposes, adding a sense of grandeur and luxury to their designs. Gold is often used in these structures to highlight their cultural, religious, or historical significance.

Part 11: Gold in Decorative Arts

This chapter delves into the multifaceted role of gold in decorative arts, from its historical and cultural significance to its influence on various art forms and styles.

Bonsai made of porcelain and gold.
Bonsai made of porcelain and gold.

The Historical and Cultural Importance of Gold in Decorative Arts

Gold’s use in decorative arts traces back to ancient civilizations such as Egypt, where it was extensively used in tombs and temples. The Egyptians believed gold to be the skin of their deities, particularly the sun god, Ra. In medieval Europe, gold was often used in religious art, symbolizing the divine and heavenly. Even in the 21st century, gold continues to be a symbol of wealth and high social status in decorative arts.

Techniques and Impacts of Gilding in Decorative Arts

Gilding, the process of applying a thin layer of gold to a surface, has been a popular decorative technique for centuries. It creates a lustrous finish that enhances the aesthetic appeal of various objects, from picture frames and furniture to sculptures and ceramics. For instance, the Golden Buddha in Bangkok, a statue measuring 3 meters in height and weighing 5.5 tons, is one of the most famous examples of gilding.

Gold facade at the Louvre in Abu Dhabi UAE
Gold facade at the Louvre in Abu Dhabi UAE (unsplash/ Fernando Lavin).

Examples of Gold in Decorative Arts

  • Ceramics, Pottery, and Glass Art – Gold has been used in ceramics, pottery, and glass art to highlight details and emphasize the craftsmanship. For example, the ancient Greeks used gold to decorate pottery, while in modern times, gold leaf is used in glass art to create stunning visual effects.
  • Gilt furniture, mirrors, and clocks – Gold was used in the creation of extravagant decorative arts, such as gilt furniture, mirrors, and clocks
  • Gold facades – Designing with gold, whether by color or material composition, has been an endeavor largely outside vernacular or traditional architecture. However, there are some modern buildings that feature gold facades, such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
  • Calligraphy and bookbinding – Gold was not just used in jewelry; it had a special place in the decorative arts, especially in calligraphy, one of the finest art forms in Islam. Gold was also used on the leather bindings for books, a practice that possibly came from Central Asia.
  • Goldwork – this refers to embroidery, needlework, and crafts that incorporate gold. Gold has been used to create sculpture, vessels, jewelry, ornamentation, and coinage. For instance, in India, gold embroidery, known as zari, has been used for over 2,000 years to decorate saris and other traditional garments.

Iconic Examples of Gold Use in Decorative Arts and their Influence on Styles and Movements

gold decoration by René Lalique 1902
gold decoration by René Lalique 1902 (wikipedia/ Sailko CC BY 3.0).

Gold has influenced various styles and movements in decorative arts. During the Renaissance, artists like Michelangelo and Raphael used gold leaf in their paintings. In the Art Nouveau movement, artists like René Lalique used gold to create intricate jewelry designs.

Gold has been used in decorative arts for centuries, and its use continues to this day. It adds a sense of luxury and grandeur to various objects and designs, and is highly valued for its beauty and rarity.

Part 12: Gold in Clothes

A woman in a golden evening dress.
A woman in a golden evening dress.

This chapter explores the historical and cultural significance of gold in clothing, the techniques and impacts of gold embellishments in fashion design, the role of gold in luxury and haute couture fashion, the usage and importance of gold in safety apparel, and the future trends and sustainability of gold in the clothing industry.

Historical and Cultural Significance of Gold in Clothing

Gold’s use in clothing can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as Egypt and Rome, where it was used to differentiate between the rich and the poor. In ancient Egypt, different colors and jewelry were used to show status, with women wearing ankle-length dresses regardless of their social status. In the Roman era, clothes were considered a status symbol, with only the aristocrats dressing in expensive and stylish clothes.

Role of Gold in Luxury and Haute Couture Fashion

In luxury and haute couture fashion, gold plays a significant role. It is sometimes used to accentuate details and craftsmanship, signifying prominence and luxury. Gold continues to be a significant detail in these high-end fashion designs today.

Gold Use in Clothes

Gold embroidery and a beautiful woman.
Gold embroidery and a beautiful woman.

Gold can be combined with clothes in a variety of ways:

  • Cloth of gold – Cloth of gold is a fabric woven with a gold-wrapped or spun weft, making it a luxurious and expensive material. It has been used for ecclesiastical use for many centuries and was reserved for royalty and higher levels of nobility under Henry VII of England
  • Gold embroidery – Gold has been used in embroidery for centuries, adding a touch of luxury and elegance to various garments. Gold embroidery can be found on everything from royal robes to haute couture dresses.
  • Gold-plated fabric – Gold-plated fabric has been used in the wardrobe of royalty for centuries. Recently, threads made of pure gold have been woven together to form a fabric that is flexible, wearable, and washable. This fabric is highly durable since silk is used as the base fabric, making it a valuable addition to the world of luxury clothing.
  • Gold jewelry – Gold has been used in the creation of jewelry for centuries, and it is often worn as an accessory to complement various garments. Gold jewelry can range from simple and understated to ornate and extravagant, adding a touch of luxury to any outfit.
  • Gold thread – Gold thread has been used in weaving and embroidery for centuries, adding a touch of opulence to various garments. Gold thread can be used to create intricate designs and patterns, enhancing the visual appeal of the garment.
Gold embroidery details.
Gold embroidery details.

These examples demonstrate the versatility and beauty of gold in clothing, showcasing its ability to enhance the visual impact and create a sense of luxury in various garments and accessories.

Usage and Importance of Gold in Safety Apparel

Protective suit with a golden visor.
Protective suit with a golden visor.

Gold is also used in safety apparel, particularly in firefighting suits and space suits, due to its ability to reflect radiant heat. This makes it an essential material for protecting individuals in high-heat environments.

In conclusion, gold has played a significant role in clothing throughout history and continues to do so today. Its use in clothing symbolizes wealth, power, and divine connection, and it continues to be a significant detail in modern and contemporary fashion design.

Part 13: Gold in Heraldry

Gold, known as “Or” in heraldry, has a rich history and significant symbolism in heraldic designs. This chapter explores the various aspects of gold in heraldry, from its historical usage to its symbolic meanings and practical applications in heraldic designs.

Banner of arms of England.
Banner of arms of England: three golden lions on a red field.

The History of Gold in Heraldry

The use of gold in heraldry has roots in the medieval times, when the art of heraldry began to flourish. As one of the two “metals” in heraldry, alongside silver or “Argent,” gold is often associated with wealth, power, and nobility. This made it a popular choice for noble families and institutions in their heraldic designs.

The Use of Gold in Coats of Arms and Emblems

Gold has been extensively used in coats of arms and emblems throughout history. It is often used as a field, or background, upon which other elements of the coat of arms are displayed. Gold is also used in the form of charges, or symbols, that are placed on the field. These charges can take many forms, from animals and plants to geometric shapes and objects.

  • For instance, the Royal Arms of England features three gold lions, symbolizing courage, nobility, royalty, strength, stateliness and valour.
  • The conventional arms of the Kingdom of Jerusalem features a large gold cross potent and four smaller Greek gold crosses, symbolizing the city’s religious significance.

The Symbolism of Gold in Heraldry

In heraldry, gold carries significant symbolism. It is associated with the sun, the precious stone topaz, and virtues such as faith, obedience, and gentility. The use of gold in a coat of arms or emblem can therefore convey a variety of symbolic meanings, depending on the context and the other elements present in the design.

  • A gold field might symbolize wealth and power, while a gold charge might symbolize courage or valor.
  • Gold used alongside certain colors can also carry symbolic meanings. For instance, gold used with blue (or “Azure” in heraldry) can symbolize the union of heaven and earth, or the divine and the human.

The Process of Making Gold Heraldic Designs

Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Jerusalem (Roll of arms Livro do Ameiro-Mor 1509).
Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Jerusalem (Roll of arms Livro do Ameiro-Mor 1509).

Creating a gold heraldic design involves a meticulous process of design and craftsmanship. The design process begins with the creation of a blazon, a formal description of the coat of arms or emblem. This blazon guides the artist in creating the actual design.

  • The gold elements of the design are often represented using yellow in drawings and engravings, while gold leaf may be used in more extravagant designs.
  • The gold used in heraldic designs is often depicted as bright and radiant, reflecting the symbolic associations of gold with the sun and the divine.

Famous Examples of Gold in Heraldry

Coat of arms of Pope Francis.
Coat of arms of Pope Francis.

There are many famous examples of gold in heraldry, from the coats of arms of royal families to the emblems of cities and institutions.

  • Royal Arms of England features three gold lions, symbolizing courage, nobility, royalty, strength, stateliness and valour.
  • Federal Coat of Arms of Germany depicts a black eagle on a gold fiel. These elements go back to the year 1200.
  • The Papal Coat of Arms often features gold elements, symbolizing the spiritual authority of the Pope. Each Pope has his own coat of arms.

In conclusion, gold’s unique properties and symbolic associations make it a valuable element in heraldry. From coats of arms to emblems, gold continues to add a touch of radiance and nobility to the designs it graces.

Part 14: Other Uses of Gold

Read the extensive articles about

  • gold in religion: the importance of gold in the 5 world religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism), ancient civilizations, shamanism and New Age beliefs.
  • gold in culture: read about gold’s significance in culture; this includes the symbolism of gold, gold artefacts, ancient civilizations, modern culture, books, poetry, language, fairy tales, mythology, folklore, songs and movies.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the multifaceted uses of gold, from jewelry to technology, central banks to personal investments, demonstrate its enduring value and versatility. Its unique properties, including its luster, malleability, resistance to tarnish, and inherent scarcity, have made it a symbol of wealth and a cornerstone of economies for millennia.

The future of gold looks promising. As we continue to find new ways to harness its unique properties, its demand is likely to remain strong. Whether it’s in the form of a beautiful piece of jewelry, a component in a high-tech device or a symbol of wealth and power, gold will continue to hold a special place in our lives and our world.

From the ancient coins of Lydia to the gold reserves of modern central banks, from the ornate jewelry of ancient civilizations to the high-tech devices of the digital age, gold’s journey is a testament to its enduring allure. As we look to the future, one thing is certain: gold’s luster will not fade.

FAQs

What are the main uses of gold?

Gold is primarily used in jewelry, investments, technology, and central banking. Other uses include dentistry, medicine, and various industrial applications.

Why is gold used in jewelry?

Gold is used in jewelry due to its scarcity, symbol of wealth and power, luster, malleability, and resistance to tarnish. It can be shaped into intricate designs and maintains its shine over time, making it a preferred metal for jewelry.

How is gold used in technology?

Gold is used in technology due to its excellent conductivity and resistance to corrosion. It's used in connectors, switch and relay contacts, soldered joints, connecting wires and connection strips.

What is the role of gold in the economy?

Gold plays a significant role in the economy as a form of investment, a reserve asset, and a luxury good. It also has uses in various industries, contributing to economic growth and development.

How is gold used in medicine and dentistry?

In medicine, gold is used in diagnostics, and in the treatment of certain diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. In dentistry, gold is used for crowns, bridges, and orthodontic appliances due to its bio-compatibility and easy workability.

Why is gold used in space technology?

Gold is used in space technology due to its ability to reflect infrared radiation, helping to protect spacecraft and astronauts from heat. It's also used in circuitry due to its excellent conductivity and resistance to corrosion.

What is the significance of gold in architecture and decorative arts?

Gold has been used in architecture and decorative arts for its aesthetic appeal and resistance to tarnish. It's used in gilding, where a thin layer of gold is applied to surfaces, and in the creation of gold leaf for decorative purposes.

How is gold used in the food and beverage industry?

Gold is used in the food and beverage industry primarily for decorative purposes. Edible gold, in the form of leaf or flakes, is used to garnish gourmet foods and drinks.

What is the future of gold usage in various industries?

The future of gold usage looks promising. Its demand in technology, medicine, and other industries is expected to grow. As new applications are discovered, gold's role may expand further.

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