“As good as gold.” “The Golden Age.” “The gold standard.”
With gold hovering near record highs of $2000 an ounce, all eyes are on this most precious commodity. Gold’s unique. Since ancient times it’s been used as currency and in jewelry.
In traditional cultures such as India, rather than keep the family’s wealth in the bank, brides have worn the family assets in 24 karat gold jewelry periodically melted and shaped into new styles. Royalty since ancient Egypt have symbolized their wealth, even divinity, in crowns and ornaments of pure gold. Religious institutions such as the Vatican have gilded their most precious spiritual artifacts.
Universally cherished in cultures throughout the world from Mayan and Aztec to Persian and African, gold is the most prized element on earth. Although at times other elements like platinum have been priced higher, historically gold has been the basis for world currencies. Virtually synonymous with wealth, it’s the safe haven in times of economic uncertainty. It’s the gold standard.
What makes gold so intrinsically valuable? One of the primal elements in chemistry’s periodic table, gold is present in traces in the human body. Its preciousness is enhanced by its rarity. When traces of gold are discovered in an area, speculators flock like bees to honey. The tremendous promise of wealth generated by the 1849 California gold rush fueled the development of the West.
Gold’s natural beauty is mesmerizing. So malleable it seems almost fluid, lustrous, the warm color of light itself, it seems to glow from within. Pure gold doesn’t tarnish. Its incorruptibility bestows an almost eternal quality. Spanish pieces of eight retrieved from galleons sunk centuries ago still gleam. Ancient Egyptian Tutankhamen funerary masks several thousand years old are still spectacular. Although gold changes in form, it remains the same.
The mystique and magic of gold are lore. Medieval alchemists sought the magic formula to transform other elements into gold. This transmutation was considered the key to life’s wealth and even the mystery of life itself, of immortality. But beware - appearances can be deceiving. All that glitters is not gold. Another caveat that is legion - since the love of money is the root of all evil, the love of gold is a mixed blessing. It’s the Midas touch. The blessing of untold riches may turn out to be a curse. Be careful what you wish for.
Gold throughout time has been associated with a key to the secret of life. The Golden Rule - do unto others as you would have them do unto you - is a universal basis of morality found in many religious codes throughout the ages. Aristotle deemed the basis of virtue to be the Golden Mean, balance and moderation in all things. For Pythagoras, mathematical harmony, the music of the spheres, attained mythical proportions. His Golden Ratio, phi, was considered the key to beauty in art and architecture, a theory that continued through the Middle Ages and beyond.
What does gold mean today? In today’s fluctuating economy, gold has been a stabilizing factor. Investors seeking a safe haven run to the comfort of gold. Buying gold has also been a boon, keeping many stores alive while other sales have fluctuated.
Because of its increasing value, gold’s perceived value is also increasing. Customers cherish gold jewelry as a true luxury item with the opulence, beauty and lasting value it projects. It’s still the standard for wedding and engagements rings. Many designers highlight gold because of its beauty accenting gems as well as mixed with other metals, especially silver, currently a very popular trend. As durable as Fort Knox, gold is here to stay. Its touch is golden.