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Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au (from Latin: aurum) and atomic number 79, making it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally. In a pure form, it is a bright, slightly reddish yellow, dense, soft, malleable, and ductile metal. Chemically, gold is a transition metal and a group 11 element. It is one of the least reactive chemical elements and is solid under standard conditions. Gold often occurs in free elemental (native) form, as nuggets or grains, in rocks, in veins, and in alluvial deposits. It occurs in a solid solution series with the native element silver (as electrum), naturally alloyed with other metals like copper and palladium and also as mineral inclusions such as within pyrite. Less commonly, it occurs in minerals as gold compounds, often with tellurium (gold tellurides).

Gold is resistant to most acids, though it does dissolve in aqua regia (a mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid), which forms a soluble tetrachloroaurate anion. Gold is insoluble in nitric acid, which dissolves silver and base metals, a property that has long been used to refine gold and to confirm the presence of gold in metallic objects, giving rise to the term acid test. Gold also dissolves in alkaline solutions of cyanide, which are used in mining and electroplating. Gold dissolves in mercury, forming amalgam alloys, but this is not a chemical reaction.

A relatively rare element, gold is a precious metal that has been used for coinage, jewelry, and other arts throughout recorded history. In the past, a gold standard was often implemented as a monetary policy, but gold coins ceased to be minted as a circulating currency in the 1930s, and the world gold standard was abandoned for a fiat currency system after 1971.

A total of 197,576 tonnes of gold exists above ground, as of 2019. This is equal to a cube with each side measuring roughly 21.7 metres. The world consumption of new gold produced is about 50% in jewelry, 40% in investments, and 10% in industry. Gold's high malleability, ductility, resistance to corrosion and most other chemical reactions, and conductivity of electricity have led to its continued use in corrosion resistant electrical connectors in all types of computerized devices (its chief industrial use). Gold is also used in infrared shielding, colored-glass production, gold leafing, and tooth restoration. Certain gold salts are still used as anti-inflammatories in medicine. As of 2017, the world's largest gold producer by far was China with 440 tonnes per year.

Gold Media

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Bottle (?) amulet, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC
Tweezer-Razor, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC
Toggle, Egypt, Second Intermediate Period (1782 - 1570 BCE)
Greek Silver stemless cup, gold
Greek Two silver roundels, gold
Gold openwork hairnet with medallion
Faience amulet of Isis and Horus
Greek Gold scarab, Greece, gold
Sweret amulet, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

Sweret amulet, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Saqqara Late Period

Scarab Inscribed with Hieroglyphs, Egypt, The Middle Kingdom - Early New Kingdom 2040 - 1550 BCE
Gold oktadrachm of Ptolemy II Philadelphos

Gold oktadrachm of Ptolemy II Philadelphos

Veiled head of Arsinoe II/double cornucopiaeAlexandria Hellenistic

Beaded Penannular Earring, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC
Gold rosette with the head of a griffin
Gold earrings with pendant vase and ring
Djed pillar amulet, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC
Faience amulet in the form of the dwarf god Pataikos

Faience amulet in the form of the dwarf god Pataikos

Amulet, Ptah-seker. Late Dynastic–Hellenistic

Roman Gold aureus of Hadrian

Roman Gold aureus of Hadrian

HADRIANVS AVG.COS III.P.P, bust of emperor/GENIO P.R., Genius of Rome sacrificing over altarRome Mid Imperial, Hadrianic

Gold hoop with glass pendant in the form of a youthful head with negroid features
Gold earring with pearl pendant
Pair of spherical gold earrings

Pair of spherical gold earrings

Gold balls with filigree. Archaic or Classical

Finger stall, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Finger stall, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Wadi Gabbanat el-Qurud, Wadi D, Tomb of the 3 Foreign Wives of Thutmose III New Kingdom

Silver statuette of a sphinx with gilding

Silver statuette of a sphinx with gilding

Gilded silver sphinx perched upon an Ionic capital with head turned to the left. Classical

Cowroid Bead Set in a Ring Bezel
Earrings, 2nd century

Earrings, 2nd century

Mesopotamia Parthian

Collar amulet, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC
Outer coffin of Senebtisi, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Outer coffin of Senebtisi, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Lisht North, Tomb of Senwosret (758), Pit 763, burial of Senebtisi, MMA excavations, 1907–08 Middle Kingdom

Finger stall, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC
Finger stall, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Finger stall, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Wadi Gabbanat el-Qurud, Wadi D, Tomb of the 3 Foreign Wives of Thutmose III New Kingdom

Glass gold-band mosaic bottle

Glass gold-band mosaic bottle

Glass objects, Roman Empire.

Insect Ornament, 7th century
Hedgehog on box pendant, Egypt, Late Period (525-332 BCE)
Jewelry Elements, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC
Gold and beryl earring
Gold earring with head of a bull

Gold earring with head of a bull

Classical or Hellenistic

Greek Gilt terracotta necklace, gold

Greek Gilt terracotta necklace, gold

Terracotta pendants gilded in gold. Hellenistic

Gold and copper alloy spiral with lion-head terminal
Gold earring with head of a bull

Gold earring with head of a bull

Classical or Hellenistic

Gold serpentine fibula (safety pin)

Gold serpentine fibula (safety pin)

Serpentine fibulae have distinctive coiled bows. Geometric

Greek Gold ring, Greece, gold
Greek Gold slipknot strap necklace

Greek Gold slipknot strap necklace

The length can be adjusted by sliding the two straps through the central bead. Hellenistic

Khonsu amulet, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

Khonsu amulet, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC

From Egypt, Memphite Region, Saqqara Late Period

Ba-bird amulet, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC
Chinese Belt Hook, bronze, China, Eastern Zhou dynasty

Chinese Belt Hook, bronze, China, Eastern Zhou dynasty

Eastern Zhou dynasty, Warring States period (475–221 B.C.)

Chinese Belt Hook, bronze, China, Eastern Zhou dynasty
Ribbed Penannular Earring, Egypt, Early New Kingdom 1550 - 1070 BCE
Ring of Priest Sienamun, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC
Ring with snake's head terminals twisted to form the bezel
Openwork Barrel Bead, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC
Roman Necklace

Roman Necklace

Glass objects, Roman Empire.

String of 7 fly amulets

String of 7 fly amulets

From Egypt Second Intermediate Period–New Kingdom

Reconstruction of  Wall Decoration from the Temple of Amun at Malqata
Toe stall, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Toe stall, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Wadi Gabbanat el-Qurud, Wadi D, Tomb of the 3 Foreign Wives of Thutmose III New Kingdom

Silver kyathos (cup-shaped ladle)
Roman Wreath of ivy

Roman Wreath of ivy

Accession Number: 00.15.1

Etruscan Gold ring, Italy

Etruscan Gold ring, Italy

Possibly once lined with ivory. Geometric

Knot Clasp of Sithathoryunet, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

Knot Clasp of Sithathoryunet, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC

From Egypt, Fayum Entrance Area, Lahun, Tomb of Sithathoryunet (BSA Tomb 8), BSAE excavations 1914 Middle Kingdom

Earring or spiral, bronze, Cyprus

Earring or spiral, bronze, Cyprus

Worn in the upper lobe of the ear. Classical

Floral Ornament, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Floral Ornament, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Malqata, Palace of Amenhotep III, MMA excavations 1911-12 New Kingdom

Leopard-Head Girdle of Sithathoryunet

Leopard-Head Girdle of Sithathoryunet

From Egypt, Fayum Entrance Area, Lahun, Tomb of Sithathoryunet (BSA Tomb 8), Chamber E, box 1, BSAE excavations 1914 Middle Kingdom

Maenad-head earrings, Egypt, Ptolemaic Period (332–30 BCE)
Roundel, medallion with head of Herakles

Roundel, medallion with head of Herakles

Accession Number: 17.194.1493

Gold ring with cameo glass portrait of the Emperor Augustus
Gold earring with head of a bull

Gold earring with head of a bull

Classical or Hellenistic

Gold earring with head of a bull
Gold ring with elliptical bezel
Barrel Bead Spacers, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC

Barrel Bead Spacers, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550 -1070 BC

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Wadi Gabbanat el-Qurud, Wadi D, Tomb of the 3 Foreign Wives of Thutmose III New Kingdom

Electrotype copy of a gold bracelet, Cyprus
Earring or spiral, bronze, Cyprus

Earring or spiral, bronze, Cyprus

Gold plated bronze. Classical

Chinese Belt Hook, bronze, China

Chinese Belt Hook, bronze, China

Accession Number: 51.134.7 late Eastern Zhou dynasty (770–256 B.C.)

Wedjat eye amulet, Late Perod, Ancient Egypt, 664 BC - 332 BC
Earring, baule type
Etruscan Gold earrings, Italy
Gold and garnet strap diadem with Herakles knot
Gold earring with head of a lion

Gold earring with head of a lion

Circlet of twisted gold wire, which tapers from the animal's head at the front end to a hooked point which passes through a loop below its throat. Classical or Hellenistic

Archaic Gold ring with a carnelian scaraboid gem
Gold earring with head of a bull

Gold earring with head of a bull

Classical or Hellenistic

Gold earring with head of a lion

Gold earring with head of a lion

Circlet of twisted gold wire, which tapers from the animal's head at the front end to a hooked point which passes through a loop below its throat. Classical or Hellenistic

Earring, baule type
Earring, baule type, Greek and Roman art
Aureus (Coin) Portraying Emperor Tiberius
Earring or spiral, bronze

Earring or spiral, bronze

Accession Number: 74.51.3343

Earring with head of ibex
Finger stall, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC
Heart Amulet of Manhata, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC
Greek Gold bracelet, gold
Finger stall, New Kingdom, Egypt, 1550  -1070 BC
Fragment From Decorated Bowl, Egypt, Third Intermediate Period (1070–664 BC)
Knife, Hand, 3rd century
Pair of Ribbed Penannular Earrings

Pair of Ribbed Penannular Earrings

From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Wadi Gabbanat el-Qurud, Wadi D, Tomb of the 3 Foreign Wives of Thutmose III New Kingdom

Fish Pendant, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC
Disk Brooch with Cameo

Disk Brooch with Cameo

The Langobards often embellished their own jewelry with gems carved centuries earlier by Roman or Etruscan craftsmen. These gems, valued for their antiquity, linked their Langobardic wearers to the illustrious ... More

Ptah Statue, Egypt, Third Intermediate Period (1070–664 BC)
Greek Gold ring, gold, Classical period

Greek Gold ring, gold, Classical period

Seated woman crowning female herm. Classical

Gold ring with plain carnelian scaraboid

Gold ring with plain carnelian scaraboid

Gold filigree ring with a plain carnelian. Classical

Rosettes of Senebtisi, Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 2040 – 1640 BC
Gold earring with head of a goat

Gold earring with head of a goat

Classical or Hellenistic

Recumbent lion from a bracelet
Archaic Gold pendant disk
Greek Gold earring with figure
Gold and enamel pendant with Mistress of Animals
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