Chemical Element: gold

(Anglo-Saxon: gold, Sanskrit juel, to shine; the symbol is from Latin aurum, shining down; metal)

Chemical-Element Information

Symbol: Au
Atomic number: 79
Year discovered: Known since ancient times.

Discovered by: Unknown

  • Gold was known and highly valued from ancient times.
  • Egyption inscriptions dating back to 2600 B.C. describe gold and it is mentioned several times in the Old Testament.
  • Gold is usually alloyed in jewelry to give it more strength, and the term carat describes the amount of gold present (24 carats is pure gold).
  • It is estimated that all the gold in the world, so far refined, could be placed in a single cube 60 feet on each side.
  • It is metallic, with a yellow color when in a mass, but when finely divided it may be black, ruby, or purple.
  • It is the most malleable and ductile metal; someone estimated that one ounce (28 g) of gold can be beaten out to 300 square feet.
  • Since it is a soft metal, it is usually alloyed to give it more strength.
  • It is a good conductor of heat and electricity, and is unaffected by air and most reagents.
  • Gold is found free in nature and associated with quartz, pyrite and other minerals.
  • Two thirds of the world’s supply comes from South Africa, and two thirds of USA production is from South Dakota and Nevada.
  • Gold is found in sea water, but no effective economic process has been designed (yet) to extract it from this source.

Name in other languages:

French: or

German: Gold

Italian: oro

Spanish: oro

Information about other elements may be seen at this Chemical Elements List.

A special unit about words that include chemo-, chem- may be seen here.