You probably know that gold is found in relatively small quantities in the Earth. Some people say up to 165,000 tonnes of gold have been mined throughout history… For millennia, the human race has eagerly collected and transformed it. So what is gold used for, that is what can do we do with gold?

Gold’s has four primary uses.

What is gold used for in Jewellery & Commemorations, Investment & Trade, Electronics & Industry, and Dentistry & Medicine?

Have a look at the pie chart below. Step one to understand what is gold used for is breaking down of how much is used by each sector. You will notice – no matter where you look – that jewellery and investment occupy the largest sections.

What is Gold Used for? - Gold Use by Industry

 

Jewellery & Commemorative are the Biggest Users of Gold

The first and obvious answer to what is gold used for is “jewellery”. In Giving Gold Jewelry and Coins As Gifts, Ertimur et al. discuss gold’s unique practical and symbolic value. They found that Eastern countries gave gold particularly for ritualistic events. These included those involving role transition. By contrast, in Western countries, gold was given for occupational commemorations. According to Reuters, in India – the world’s second strongest consumer of gold – some two thirds of demand comes from villages.

The Place of Gold in Investment & Trade

Investment, but really trade in, gold goes back as the oldest form of currency. In fact, fluctuations in gold prices resemble those of currency fluctuations. Investing in gold is a wholly different story. Most investors are hedging themselves against inflation or speculating on a sharp rise in the price of gold.

Many individuals also believe that the United States’ exit from the gold standard allowed unsustainable financial policies to thrive. Today, central banks and institutional investors buy roughly 75% of all gold purchased for investment and trade. More than ever, individual investors are getting in the marketplace. In fact, it is easier than ever to buy gold. You can buy bars, coins, and rounds (coins without any monetary value) over the internet, in specialty stores, and even in banks.

Gold in Electronics & Industry

There are a plethora of industrial uses for gold, although the strongest demand would have to come from electronics manufacturers. It is essential in many modern devices to conduct faint amounts of electricity while utterly avoiding oxidization. There are very few metals that are as effective as gold in making connections, joints, and other contact points.
Whole industries focus on recycling electronics. These range from smartphones to televisions, and work to effectively remove gold from them. While today’s computers don’t use nearly as much of the shiny metal as older models, gold’s proven reliability tends to make it a preferred metal for connections and microprocessors, even at current prices. To save money, we can plate other metals with gold. but this is only effective in the short- and medium-term. Since most plating will eventually wear off, we factor in the cost of replacing it over time. Finally, emerging industrial uses include aerospace lubricants where traditional lubrication would become volatile, and due to gold’s malleable nature, it is an effective physical lubricant in space.

Where is Gold Used in Dentistry and Medicine?

Why don’t tend to use steel or base metals for fillings? First of all, they would probably rust. Second, they would probably poison you. Third, it would leave an awful taste in your mouth – no pun intended. All of these reasons supporting the use of gold in dentistry have one point in common: gold is relatively inactive. By mixing gold with some other metals, we end up with a strong but otherwise inactive metal you can chew with. Despite these factors, gold has declined in such uses due to ever-increasing prices.

The primary medicinal use of gold is in radioactive form. Gold is injected or otherwise implanted in the body to treat cancers, as well as to diagnose illness. Due to its high density, gold is often injected in minute amounts into the eyelids to treat an inability to close one’s eyes. Overall, however, it is dentistry that forms the bulk of the medicinal uses for gold.

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