What is Gold - Gold Au Element Periodic Table and Gold Facts

In 2013, scientists discovered evidence that suggests Gold comes from the "collisions of ultra-dense objects called neutron stars" after witnessing a short gamma-ray burst (GRB) 3.9 billion light years away (Washington Post). After the brief flash of light, astronomers observed radioactive afterglow that produced huge quantities of heavy metals, like Gold. Calculations suggest the explosion produced 20 Earth-masses worth of Gold.

On Earth, however, Gold only exists in the crust at 5 parts per billion. It is often found as nuggets or particles in the beds of streams. Most of what is here is thought to have arrived with asteroids and meteorites.

Of course, man's fascination with Gold existed long before 2013. According to Gold historian Timothy Green, Gold has been mined for more than 6,000 years. It is estimated that roughly 165,000 metric tons of Gold have been mined throughout history. Gold's unique elemental properties give it a special luster, durability, malleability and aversion to rust and erosion that make it one of the most sought-after metals in the world.

Gold Periodic Table

In the periodic table, elements are grouped according to electronic structure. The Gold periodic table placement is located in period 6 (horizontal row) and family 11 (vertical column), along with other coinage metals like Silver and Copper. These metals are great for circulation because they have excellent wear resistance. Shared properties with the Gold element include being inert, corrosion-resistant metals with low electrical resistivity.

Gold Element Properties

  1. The symbol for Gold is Au. The Gold symbol "Au" comes from the Latin word "aurum," which means "shining dawn."
  2. The Gold atomic number is 79, which is the number of protons (positively charged particles) in the nucleus.
  3. The molar mass of Gold is 196.967 g/mol.
  4. The melting point of Gold is a sizzling 1,948°F. That's nearly 200° more than Silver.
  5. The density of Gold at room temperature is 19.30 g/cm3 . In its pure form, it is bright, slightly reddish-yellow in color and malleable. Gold density decreases after melting to 17.31 g/cm3.

Fun and Interesting Facts About Gold

Pure Gold is 24 karat, which translates to .9999 fine. 18 karat Gold is 75 percent pure and 12 karat is 50 percent pure Gold.

No one knows who discovered Gold, but the first Gold coins as currency appeared in Turkey under King Croesus of Lydia around 550 B.C.

Gold is so malleable and ductile, an ounce can be beaten into a sheet covering 300 square feet or drawn into a wire 60 miles long.

Abu Dhabi, a city known for luxury, has the world's first Gold vending machine.

Gold uses: More than half of the world's Gold is used for jewelry, which often leads to recycling. One-third is used for investments and holdings. People can buy Gold coins and bars for their portfolios. Most Gold bars are flat, but some European investors prefer Gold brick shapes. Twelve percent of Gold is used for industrial purposes, like cell phones, and cannot be reused.

There is only enough Gold circulating in the whole world to fill 3 1/2 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Chemists and Gold lovers alike can support their favorite metal with punny Au periodic table T-shirts…

…While investors can choose Gold that supports them.

Helpful Resources

How to Invest in Precious Metals (2:38)

See how Gold, an ancient storehouse of wealth, plays a vital role in modern investment portfolios. Watch Video

The Precious Metals Guide: Insights & Services

Written to acquaint you with Precious Metals investing and all the ways APMEX helps you succeed. Read more

Market Updates

Monitor the performance of Gold and Silver with daily market commentaries. Learn More


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