Fashioning Gold into Jewellery
Due to its special physical characteristics, its rarity and because of its special colour and lustre, gold is the most valuable precious metal in the world. About 2500 tonnes are extracted worldwide every year. More than 80% of the extracted gold is used to make jewellery, therefore the jewellery industry is by far the largest processing sector for gold. Hence, 2000 tonnes are used annually in the production of watches, chains, rings, bracelets and other pieces of jewellery.
Use of Gold in the Electronic Industry and Technical Equipment
About 10 % of the extracted gold is used in the production of electronic goods and technical equipment. Its high resistance to corrosion, excellent conductivity and easy processing makes gold a very valuable material, especially when it is necessary to guarantee individual components for permanent and a highly resistant functionality despite environmental influences. For this reason gold plays an especially important role in the manufacture of satellites. Everyday applications of gold are most notably in the IT and consumer electronics sectors or more generally in the production of quality high value connectors, relays, printed circuit boards or bond wires on circuit boards and microchips.
Gold as an Investment and Payment Method
Only 3% of the yearly extracted gold is processed into gold bullion and gold coins. In this form it can be used as a method of payment or an investment. As early as the 6th century BC gold was being used as a method of payment. But, today gold is rarely used as a method of payment. Instead, gold bullion plays an important role in international fiscal policy. Every national bank in the world hoards a certain amount of gold bullion as gold reserves, which can be converted into currency during a financial crisis to guarantee national liquidity. Germany currently has around 3400 tonnes as gold reserves with a value of about 140 billion Euro. Generally, gold is very popular as investment capital, especially in a financial crisis. Compared with currency, gold maintains relatively stable value and guarantees that the owners retain the value of their investment. However, the gold price on the stock market is often subject to fluctuations and therefore presents certain ricks as an investment.
Use of Gold in Medicine
Due to gold’s high resistance to corrosion and material resistance to water and acids it is an ideal for medical use. Here gold is especially useful in dental medicine, specially for fillings, inlays and crowns. Also in rheumatic therapy gold is used in the form of gold salts, as a basic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. However, treatment using gold salts is not without risks. When an incorrect dosage is administered, the liver, blood and kidneys can be damaged.
Gold as an Additive in Food
What in the first instance would not be expected is that gold is used as an additive in food, if only in very small amounts, gold is used as decoration for food and drinks. As wafer-thin gold leaf or as gold leaf flakes it is readily used to gild food dishes, noble pastries and filled chocolates or as an additive in drinks. Gold in its metal form is not poisonous, does not build up in the body, and is normally completely excreted by the digestive system.