Aurum, gold’s Latin name, means ‘glow of sunrise’, and gold is surely an attractive metal. It is one of the least reactive metals; therefore it does not tarnish, and remains a bright yellow after thousands of years. It can also be hammered or rolled into thin sheets (malleable) and drawn into wires (ductile), and it conducts electricity. One of the other big reasons for gold’s value is its scarcity. Gold as a precious asset has its own place and attachment to human all across the world in general and in India in particular. Gold has always been one of the most preferred forms of jewelry and the best safe investment option in India. A funny fact about the discovery of gold is that no one knows when it was discovered. But it has certainly been with us for long.
A culture centered in today’s Eastern Europe began to use gold mined around the year 4000 BC, according to archaeology. In the year 3000 BC, the Sumer civilization of southern Iraq used gold to fashion a wide range of jewellery in varied and sophisticated styles, some of which are worn today. We all know of King Tut’s gold-plated coffin, whose quality shows that Egyptians were advanced in the art of working with gold. The top 10 central banks with the largest gold reserves have remained mostly unchanged for the last few years. The United States holds the number one spot with over 8,000 tonnes of gold in its vaults – nearly as much as the next three countries combined. For six consecutive years the Russian Central Bank has been the largest purchaser of gold, increasing its holdings by 224 tonnes in 2017 and overtaking China to hold the fifth spot. Top 10 countries with the largest gold holdings are:
- United States, Tonnes: 8,133.5. Percent of foreign reserves: 75.2%
- Germany, Tonnes: 3,371.0. ...
- Italy, Tonnes: 2,451.8. ...
- France, Tonnes: 2,436.0. ...
- Russia, Tonnes: 1,909.8. ...
- China, Tonnes: 1,842.6. ...
- Switzerland, Tonnes: 1,040.0. ...
- Japan, Tonnes: 765.2. ...
- Netherlands, Tonnes: 612.5
- India, Tonnes: 560.3
Some interesting facts about India in terms of Gold craze:
- India imports 40% of the World’s total production of Gold, making India as the top importer of Gold metal.
- India imports approx 1000 tons of Gold per year.
- The imports are mainly from China, USA, Australia, South Africa and Russia.
- In India, approx 4000 tons of gold is lying idle in Temples, and approx 15000 tons is in Indian homes.
- Gold imports of India is on the rise.
- Indians prefer buying gold in metal form, whereas Gold bonds, futures are preferred in other countries.
- Average Indian middle class family’s lifetime expenditure on Gold is approx 15 to 80 lakhs.
- Demand for gold in India is different in different parts of the country. Generally, South Indians buy lots of gold ornaments.
Reasons for Indians obsession with Gold
- In India, Gold is considered as auspicious.
- To wear daily or occasionally.
- Security in the times of inflation.
- Prestige issue.
- To follow trend.
- Gold is considered as a good investment option, as the gold price in india is always on the rise.
- It is cashable at any time.
- Many festivals in India are associated with Gold, at least in these days.
- Gold is compulsory in Indian weddings. The tradition of giving Gold jewelry to bride is continuing till now. In ancient days, this tradition was started to help women in difficult times because the jewelry is bride’s independent wealth.
- A good chunk of black money is converting into gold, because buying gold jewelry doesn’t require documents.
- Storage of gold is not taxed, whereas tax is applicable on land, fixed deposits etc.
- People with no bank accounts, mostly from below poverty line saves their little earned money in the form of gold as they barely have alternate investment options.
- Rich and middle class are increasingly offering gold ornaments as gifts to temples.
Making of Gold
Scientifically, Gold that was in the Earth’s own makeup got pulled into its core along with other iron-loving elements like platinum and nickel when molten iron sank into it. There is actually enough gold in the core of earth to coat its surface in 1.5 feet of the stuff. But it’s inaccessible except when it comes out through volcanoes in small amounts. Gold in the mines on earth came when huge meteorites bombarded the Earth more than 4 million years ago, after the core had fully formed and the crust had cooled. Located in South Africa, the Witwatersrand Basin represents the richest gold field ever discovered. It is estimated the 40% of all of the gold ever mined has come out of the Basin. In 1970, South Africa's output accounted for 79% of the world's gold production. The Grasberg mine is the largest gold mine and the second largest copper mine in the world. It is located in the province of Papua in Indonesia near Puncak Jaya, the highest mountain in Papua. The World Gold Council estimates that all the gold ever mined totaled 190,040 metric tons in 2019 but other independent estimates vary by as much as 20%. At a price of US$1,250 per troy ounce, reached on 16 August 2017, one ton of gold has a value of approximately US$40.2 million.
Nuclear transformation: The synthesis of precious metals involves the use of either nuclear reactors or particle accelerators to produce these elements. With modern physics equipment, such as particle accelerators, it is indeed possible to create gold from other elements, though the amounts are sub-microscopic and the process costs far more to create. All regular matter is made out of atoms. Gold is the chemical element with 79 protons in each atomic nucleus. Chrysopoeia, the artificial production of gold, is the symbolic goal of alchemy. Such transmutation is possible in particle accelerators or nuclear reactors, although the production cost is currently many times the market price of gold. Since there is only one stable gold isotope, 197Au, nuclear reactions must create this isotope in order to produce usable gold. Gold synthesis in a particle accelerator is possible in many ways. The Spallation Neutron Source has a liquid mercury target which will be transmuted into gold, platinum, and iridium, which are lower in atomic number than mercury. Gold was synthesized from mercury by neutron bombardment in 1941, but the isotopes of gold produced were all radioactive. In 1924, a Japanese physicist, Hantaro Nagaoka, accomplished the same feat. Gold can currently be manufactured in a nuclear reactor by the irradiation of either platinum or mercury. Only the mercury isotope 196Hg, which occurs with a frequency of 0.15% in natural mercury, can be converted to gold by slow neutron capture, and following electron capture, decay into gold's only stable isotope, 197Au. When other mercury isotopes are irradiated with slow neutrons, they also undergo neutron capture, but either convert into each other or beta decay into the thallium isotopes 203Tl and 205Tl. Using fast neutrons, the mercury isotope 198Hg, which composes 9.97% of natural mercury, can be converted by splitting off a neutron and becoming 197Hg, which then decays into stable gold. This reaction, however, possesses a smaller activation cross-section and is feasible only with unmoderated reactors. It is also possible to eject several neutrons with very high energy into the other mercury isotopes in order to form 197Hg. However such high-energy neutrons can be produced only by particle accelerators. In 1980, Glenn Seaborg transmuted several thousand atoms of bismuth into gold at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. His experimental technique, using nuclear physics, was able to remove protons and neutrons from the bismuth atoms. Seaborg's technique was far too expensive to enable the routine manufacture of gold but his work is the closest yet to emulating the mythical Philosopher's Stone.
Alchemy route: For hundreds of years alchemists toiled in their laboratories to produce a mythical substance known as the philosopher’s stone. The supposedly dense, waxy, red material was said to enable the process that has become synonymous with alchemy—chrysopoeia, the metamorphosis, or transmutation, of base metals such as lead into gold. It is a pseudoscience, a form of speculative thought that, among other aims, tried to transform base metals such as lead or copper into silver or gold and to discover a cure for disease and a way of extending life. According to legend, the 13th-century scientist and Philosopher Albertus Magnus is said to have discovered the philosopher's stone. Magnus does not confirm he discovered the stone in his writings, but he did record that he witnessed the creation of gold by "transmutation". There are mentions of various manis/divine stones in the Vedic scriptures also. One of them is called Parasmani or Chintamani or Touchstone. They are real and still in existence is a point of debate always. Parasmani has the ability to turn iron into gold just by touch. Information about some of other manis is found as below:
1. There are descriptions of Nagamanis on top of the heads of Nagas (snakes)
2. The demon Ravana stole mani called Chandrkanata from Kubera
3. Ashwatthama had a mani on his forehead, which made him very powerful .
4. Lord Brhama has a Chintamani.
5. Lord Vishnu wears Kaustubha Mani
6. Lord Shiva has Rudramani.
7. The King of heaven, Indradeva, also has a mani
With the help a bacteria: A team of Michigan State University researchers have discovered a bacterium that has the ability to withstand incredible amounts of toxicity to create 24-karat gold. This process, known as microbial alchemy, will help scientists turn a substance of no value into a solid, precious metal. The team discovered that the metal-tolerant bacteria Cupriavidus metallidurans can grow on massive concentrations of gold chloride – or liquid gold, a toxic chemical compound found in nature. According to the research team, the bacteria is at least 25 times stronger than previously reported. Scientists fed the bacteria unprecedented amounts of gold chloride and within a week the bacteria transformed the toxins into a gold nugget.