What’s so good about gold?

Have you ever wondered why the entire world considers gold to be the most important non-life essential possession? It isn’t only the case now, in fact, it has been this way for thousands of years. People have and still use gold as a sign of status, wealth and prosperity, among many other symbolic gestures, depending on the period of history and particular culture. Gold is used as a store of value and is seen as the most stable monetary instrument. The thinking by today’s investors is that every well diversified portfolio should have some gold in it (usually in the form of the paper financial instrument representing gold and not necessarily physical gold, although that would work too) in order to counter volatility of various currencies and corporate stocks. Governments also have a reserve of gold for stability purposes among other reasons.

Gold is the most malleable and ductile metal on earth. That means that you can press it thin enough to see through it (not with your hands of course) or stretch it out like a wiry string and it is also relatively soft when pure which you don’t expect from a metal. It is used for so many applications that if I were to make even a partial list then you would have to scroll for a very long time. This is also why it is so revered and important to the global society and economy. Gold is used in some form or fashion in almost every industry in the world from food colouring to heavy machinery and everything in between. It is very likely one of, if not the most versatile element known. It is non-toxic when it’s pure so you can ingest it and nothing will happen to you. In fact, it is used in the medical field now and in ancient cultures and you can even buy alcoholic beverages with gold flakes in them.

Not all of the reasons that make gold as important as it is comes from useful and beneficial characteristics though. If you think about it, it doesn’t even make sense that it would be used as a symbol of wealth or riches because platinum is more valuable than gold so really that should be the ultimate status symbol. However, I think human history’s use of gold for that purpose is why we revere it today. People use gold in jewelry and have done so since ancient times. I am not exactly sure that the reasons for it are because of how useful it is. I think a lot of it has to do with its perception that was created thousands of years ago and has been passed on and stuck until today. Yes, it is easier to mold in to intricate jewelry and that helps I’m sure but that alone does not explain the fascination with having gold jewelry. Perhaps it’s a combination of all the useful characteristics of it plus the long history it has of being a stable monetary source and the perception it has maintained for thousands of years that make gold the pinnacle of possessions.