Synonymous with everything luxurious, gold is one of the most favourite metals of all time (no surprises there!). Even today, gold jewellery is highly in-demand, and most women's closets are brimming with these glittering creations. Despite all this love, a question that arises is - how much do we know about this glorious metal? Not much, right? Then, let's find out.
What is in gold's name?
Gold is said to be one of the first precious metals known to humans. It has been a part of many ancient civilizations and has many different names. In fact, the term we currently use - 'Gold' is believed to have Old English and Germanic origins.
The German Gothic word 'gulþa' was initially used to denote this metal which evolved to 'geolu' (Old English word for yellow). Later it re-evolved to gold, a Middle English word that came into existence roughly in the 12th century and is prevalent to date.
A Latin word,'Aurum,' loosely translates to 'glowing dawn,' also denotes this metal (on the periodic table). Ancient Romans presumably used it to describe this metal.
Symbolism of Gold
Lustrous and elegant, gold is well-loved and admired by various early civilisations like Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Asian, African and more. This alluring metal is also associated with numerous positive attributes that add to its popularity.
Gold is believed to signify purity and perfection, used as offerings to Gods for ceremonial and beautification purposes as well. It is said to aid healing and bestow its wearer with growth, protection and knowledge. Moreover, it is said to symbolise wealth, authority and prosperity across many cultures around the world.
Evolution of Gold
Gold has certainly had a long and amazing journey from its unknown discovery to being adored worldwide to being one of the most widely used precious metals. During this continuous evolution process, there has been a shift in how gold was viewed and used by different cultures.
Egyptians were thought to be one of the first civilisations to smelt (extract gold for an ore of mixed metals) gold in 3600 BC. Their upper class wore the resultant jewellery as a symbol of wealth. The Mesopotamians used gold creations to symbolise fashion and status. They commonly wore accessories like amulets, anklets and multi-strand necklaces.
Later in 1500 BC, the Greeks started making gold wires, which led to the creation of thinner yet simplistic jewellery items like earrings and bracelets. Even in this era, women typically wore jewellery to show off their status but only during outings.
Medieval Europe showed the use of gold creations like signet rings, brooches which often featured influences of Celtic designs. However, these gold jewellery items majorly served as symbols of high social status. Whereas during the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) empire, solid gold was usually swapped for lighter gold leaves.
Although a favoured precious metal, gold's use in jewellery gradually reduced only to be revived in the 19th century.
19th century and beyond
The 19th century saw an exponential increase in the demand for gold jewellery, probably due to ancient excavations and a piqued interest in Renaissance and Medieval art forms. Hence, pieces designed in this period displayed an influence of the ancient civilisations' intricate work.
As time passed, nature-inspired designs, flower-inspired metalwork, female figures, and other metal motifs were also used in jewellery.
Types of Gold
Although it seems that yellow gold is probably the only gold variant available, is it all? No. There are a few others. These variants are equally adored and make great choices as jewellery designing metal.
Since antiquity, the most popular hue of gold, yellow gold, has been stealing hearts with its natural glow and beauty. Plus, raw gold available in nature has a yellowish tint to it, which makes this metal's shade closest to the naturally occurring ones. Even today, the classic appeal, warm hue and beauty of yellow gold makes it a preferred precious metal choice.
Gold is highly malleable by nature, so it is often mixed with other metals to increase its strength and colour. Such mixtures are called alloys, and white gold is an apt example of this. It is created by mixing pure gold with silver, palladium, nickel or zinc. The outcome is a silvery-white metal that is affordable and remarkably durable as well.
In current times, white gold is one of the most sought-after alloys and a desirable alternative to platinum and silver.
Recently, rose gold has amassed a lot of popularity as a preferred metal choice. It is widely prized for its pretty hue, which is a result of mixing gold with copper. This doesn't only enhance the rose gold's durability but lends the cherished pinkish hue, which has given it the title of a romantic metal. Interesting, isn't it?
Phew! So much to know! Who would have thought that our beloved gold is not just some precious metal? Its rich history and journey have ensured that the various cultures of the world covet this metal. Hence, it isn't surprising that gold is widely used and made a part of different occasions too.
So, the next time you go shopping, rest assured, as you are not only buying gold adornments, coins, or bars. Instead, you are partaking in history as well!