Reference:

Facts About Gold

Gold
Gold
Credit: Andrei Marincas | Shutterstock

Atomic Number: 79
Atomic Symbol: Au
Atomic Weight: 196.966569
Melting Point: 1,947.5 F (1,064.1 C)
Boiling Point: 5,173 F (2,856 C)

Word origin: The term gold has been used to describe the metal in several Germanic languages. The symbol Au comes from the Latin word aurum.

Discovery: Gold has been in use as a highly valued metal since the first civilizations began.

Properties of gold

Gold is a dense, soft, ductile metal with a bright yellow color. Its yellow color and luster makes it an attractive metal for fine jewelry and other precious objects. It is also the most malleable of all metals and retains its luster without tarnishing in air or water. It is also a good conductor of heat and electricity.

Gold has 18 isotopes. One isotope, 198 Au, is used in some cancer treatments and for treating other diseases.

Sources of gold

Gold is naturally found as a free metal and in tellurides, often in veins and alluvial deposits. The largest deposits of gold are found in South Africa. In the United States, much of the gold mined is found in South Dakota and Nevada. Gold can be removed from other cores by smelting, cyanide use and amalgamating.

Uses of gold

Gold is a highly valued metal with many applications. It has been used in:

  • coinage and monetary exchange
  • medicine
  • food and drink
  • jewelry
  • dental work
  • electronics

In food, very thin gold flakes or foil are sometimes added. It is also used to coat certain space satellites, as it is a good reflector of infrared light.

(Source: Los Alamos National Laboratory)

Gold Quiz: From Nuggets to Flecks
A century ago a lucky gold miner might find a nugget as big as an apple. That gold is gone. Now mines squeeze precious flecks from deposits that look to the naked eye to be just plain old rock.
Test your knowledge of modern gold mining.
Start the Quiz
Mercury is used during "artesian" mining operations because gold particles cling to the mercury.
0 of 10 questions complete
Gold Quiz: From Nuggets to Flecks
A century ago a lucky gold miner might find a nugget as big as an apple. That gold is gone. Now mines squeeze precious flecks from deposits that look to the naked eye to be just plain old rock.
Test your knowledge of modern gold mining.
Start Quiz
Mercury is used during "artesian" mining operations because gold particles cling to the mercury.
0 of questions complete

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