10 Uses For Gold
From time to time, you will hear people inexplicably say, “Gold is just a useless metal.” They claim that gold’s value is simply “a matter of faith.”
This is sheer nonsense. In fact, gold is one of the most useful metals on the planet and would probably have even more practical applications if it wasn’t so rare and expensive. The truth is gold did not become money because it wasn’t useful for anything else. Its role as money actually evolved because it is so valuable and has so many uses.
Here are 10 uses for gold beyond its function as money and a store of wealth.
Jewelry – Because of its beauty and malleability, gold has been used as jewelry for thousands of years. Gold is also perfect for jewelry because it doesn’t react with moisture. That means it won’t rust or tarnish. Gold also mixes well with other metals, allowing jewelers to achieve various colors and strengths. In 2019, over 2,100 tons of gold were used in jewelry.
Dentistry – Gold in dentistry dates back nearly 4,000 years. It is perfect for dental applications because it is durable, doesn’t corrode, and it isn’t toxic in the body. Gold has been used for fillings, crowns and bridgework. The use of gold in dentistry has declined significantly since the 1970s due to the rising price, but there has been some resurgence in its use in recent years due to concerns about the long-term toxicity of other materials. Thirteen tons of gold were used in dentistry in 2019.
Medicine – Gold is increasingly being used in medical applications. Gold nanoparticles serve as an excellent vehicle for targeting medications to very specific areas of the body. Gold is also useful in medical imaging and testing. For instance, researchers at the University of Queensland developed a universal cancer test using gold nanoparticles that just takes 10 minutes and requires nothing more than a mobile phone. Gold nanoparticles are also used in diagnostic tests for malaria, HIV-AIDS, hepatitis, sleeping sickness, and syphilis in remote developing countries throughout the world. Some of the recent medical developments using gold seem like science fiction. In 2018, a team of Chinese researchers announced they were able to partially restored the sight of blind mice by replacing their deteriorated photoreceptors – sensory structures inside the eye that respond to light – with nano-wires made of gold and titanium.
Electronics – Gold is an excellent conductor and is widely used in electronics. Your cell phone has gold inside it. So does your computer. In fact, virtually any device with vital electronic connections that cannot fail utilize gold. Silver is a better conductor than gold, but unlike silver, gold does not tarnish. Of course, gold is expensive, but the demand for reliability outweighs the cost. In 2019, 262 tons of gold were used in manufacturing electronic products.
Aerospace – Gold is used to reflect heat and radiation on aircraft, spaceships and even on the visors of astronauts’ helmets. The mirrors on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), scheduled to launch into space in 2021, use gold. NASA officials say the telescope will allow scientists to “look back in time to see the very first galaxies that formed in the early Universe.” And thanks to its golden mirror and incredibly sensitive camera system, it may allow us to detect alien life out in space. Gold is also an essential mechanical lubricant in spacecraft. Due to its low shear strength, gold-based lubricants can withstand intense solar radiation that traditional organic lubricants cannot.
Gilding and Gold Leaf – Gold is the most malleable of any metal, making it a beautiful corrosion-resistant covering for buildings. Gold sheets can be beaten to an incredibly thin 3 millionths of an inch thickness. The domes of several US state capitols are covered with gold. You also find the metal adorning many churches and other buildings around the world. Gold leaf has also been used in art for centuries.
Cosmetics – Gold is used in cosmetic products ranging from skincare creams and moisturizers, to lip balms. Some claim the yellow metal can improve skin tone and elasticity and that it has anti-aging properties.
Food and Drink – It’s not the most practical use for gold, but it is popular as a garnish on food or in beverages. Gold has no taste, is non-toxic and passes straight through the body. Many chefs use gold as a way to make their dishes just a little more extravagant. It has been used on everything from steaks to chicken wings. There’s even a beer with gold in it.
Printing – Gold ink is becoming increasingly popular in the printing industry. It not only adds a gleaming touch to printed material, but gold ink can also be used to produce long-lasting high-quality photos. Gold is becoming a popular material for 3-D printing as well.
Awards – Olympic athletes compete for gold medals. Musicians yearn for that gold record. The trophy soccer teams compete for in the World Cup is formed from solid 18-karat gold with a weight of over 11 pounds. The melt value of the gold itself comes in at over $100,000, but the estimated value of the trophy is over $20 million.