The Meaning of Gold Across Cultures

Since the dawn of humanity, gold and people have shared a relationship. Its beauty makes it desirable for jewelry and building materials. Its rarity makes it a valuable trade commodity. A large portion of human history depended on gold for the wealth of nations and citizens. How complicated is our relationship with the king of precious metals?

Gold in The Middle East

Middle Eastern Gold

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Most likely, someone found the first shiny example of gold in a body of water, but we can’t be sure. We do know gold refinement predates our use of iron and copper. Ancient Egyptians related the beauty and power of gold with the gods. Gold was called the Skin of the Gods.

The earliest examples of refined gold appear in the Middle East, where civilization began. The oldest examples we have were found in the tombs of Egypt’s Queen Zer and Ur’s Queen Pu-abi, indicating humans began crafting gold pieces as early as three millenniums B.C. The largest collection of gold was found in the tomb of Egypt’s King Tutankhamen.

As early as 700 B.C., artists in the Persian Empire (now Iran) used advanced gold refining processes. Much of this work centered around Zoroastrianism religious pieces. After the Arabs came to this region, stunningly beautiful animal art began to appear.

Gold in China

Gold in China

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While the Middle East enjoyed a wealth of gold, China was robbed early. Until the Han Dynasty, China was wealthy in gold, but since the fall of this great empire China has suffered from a lack of this resource. Theories on how China’s gold was lost vary. Some believe China never really had much gold, most of what was believed to be gold was actually copper. Others think the Hans buried China’s gold or took it somewhere else.

International trade required gold for centuries. China had to export large quantities of grain, even as citizens were starving, in exchange for goods they had to import. Another setback occurred when the Nationalist Government fell. Most of China’s gold ended up in Taiwan as the Nationalists fled the country. Even now, the ownership and exchange of gold by the Chinese people is highly regulated.

Gold In Europe

European Gold

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Europe’s fascination with gold began during the Roman Empire. As in the Middle East, gold was first used in jewelry. It then began showing up in household goods and even furniture in homes of the higher classes. Gradually, gold coins became currency. About 300 years B.C., Roman citizens were recognized by their necklaces, which bore coins emblazoned with the image of the emperor.

As Christianity swept Europe, people began burying gold with their dead. Because of this, very little of Europe’s golden items survived the Middle Ages. Gradually, Europe began using the gold standard of currency. Great Britain adopted it in 1821, followed by the rest of Europe in the 1870’s.

Gold In The Americas

American Gold

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Even before European settlers sailed to the Americas, Indians had developed advanced gold refining processes like filigree, granulation, inlay and other gold working methods. In fact, when Spanish settlers arrived, the Indians had already developed all of the gold working knowledge possessed by the Spanish.

By this time, the whole world recognized the value of gold in adornments and in currency. By the end of World War I, Europe and everyone except the U.S. had abandoned the gold standard. By the mid-20th Century, the U.S. dollar became the basis for international trade, replacing the longstanding use of gold. Today, gold is used mostly for jewelry, high-tech electronics and as an investment against economic collapse.

Death by Gold: Strange Stories from History

You’ve probably heard of death by execution and death by hanging, but what about death by gold? There are several stories in history where people are killed by gold. Take a look at these strange stories throughout time.

Valerian Had Molten Gold Poured Down His Throat

Molten Gold

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It’s rumored that Valerian, a Roman Emperor, was taken prisoner by the Persians because of war and tyranny. The Persian ruler, Shapur, decided to kill Valerian by pouring molten gold down his throat. Basically, the molten gold destroyed Valerian’s esophagus and throat and filled his stomach with gold until it burst. Shapur then stuffed Valerian’s body with straw and used him as a trophy and symbol to others of Persia’s greatness.

Genghis Khan Killed the Governor of Utrar with Molten Gold

Genghis Khan

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Valerian isn’t the only story of a person dying by gold. It’s also rumored that Genghis Khan killed the governor of Utrar after a battle where Genghis lost several of his merchants. The governor of Utrar had molten gold poured in his ears and mouth to torture him before his death. He wasn’t used as a trophy, but this kind of death is pretty cruel.

Crassus Suffered Same Molten Gold Fate

Gold Fate

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Apparently, death by molten gold pops up in several stories because Crassus received the same, cruel punishment. Crassus had been climbing up the Roman political power during the rule of Spartacus. He eventually was awarded the title of consul after showing great leadership during many battles and wars. Crassus was later killed during a battle with the Parthians. He had molten gold poured down in his mouth as a symbol of his greed for wealth.

Death by a Gold Elixir Meant to Preserve Age and Beauty

Gold Elixir

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Well, obviously molten gold is dangerous, but it’s not the only way to be killed by gold. The mistress of King Henry II of France (Diane de Poitieres) poisoned herself with an elixir that contained gold. The elixir was supposed to help her fight the appearance of age, and it must have worked because she was 20 years older than King Henry II but looked the same age. The gold poisoning didn’t occur all at once — it made her hair finer than normal and her skin look like porcelain. However, the youthful benefits of gold probably weren’t worth dying for. Large traces of gold were found in the mistress’s blood after her death, proving she was killed by self-inflicted gold poisoning.

It looks like death by gold is a pretty cruel way to die, whether it is through blood poisoning or molten gold. Do you think it is one of the cruelest punishments?

The History of Gold: Ancient to Modern Times [IG]

Learn about the history of gold from the ancient days of golden masks and temples to the current practices of gold stents being used in heart surgeries. Gold has been popular around the globe for more than 4,000 years because of its pliable, attractive nature. While people once considered metals like silver and lead appealing, gold became the symbol of the height of fashion and wealth because it is rare and safe.


From the ancient royals to today’s rap stars with gold grills and giant chains, the value of gold has gone up considerably. Find out in this infographic how gold has become an appealing investment opportunity, and where today’s gold is being mined.


History of Gold

Tracking 2012 Gold Prices

As 2012 comes to a close, many people are thinking about the best way to improve their finances for the new year. Investing is a popular option, especially with tax returns arriving in the near future, but there are several places to put your money.

Why Gold Is a Good Investment

Gold Investment

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Many financial advisors recommend stocks over purchasing gold. Stocks have high return potential, but stock prices constantly fluctuate and are one of the riskiest investments to make. Gold prices, however, are extremely stable and have been steadily on the rise for more than a decade now. This consistency promises a worthwhile profit for gold investors. It’s a smart decision to put at least part of your investment income into gold.

The History of Gold Prices

Gold Prices

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Benchmark pricing standards for gold came into being nearly 100 years ago in September 1919 in London. In the US, the afternoon fixing of gold prices began in 1968 to serve American traders. Over the past 4 decades, fluctuations in price have been normal.

  • 1970 to 1980: Gold prices steadily increased during this first decade in the US market, peaking at a high of $850 per ounce on January 21, 1980.
  • 1980 to 1999: The next 20 years were not as encouraging for gold investors. Prices steadily dropped, hitting a rock bottom low of $252.90 on June 21, 1999.
  • 1999 to 2001: Known as the ‘Brown Bottom’ period in the gold market, this short amount of time marked the end of low gold prices and the beginning of a lucrative opportunity for investors.

Gold Prices in the New Millenium

New Gold Prices

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After bottoming out in 1999, the price of gold has steadily increased since the turn of the century. Unlike the stock market or oil investments, gold prices increased by more than 300% since 2000 and continue to climb. In early 2008, investors enjoyed a new high of $865.35 per ounce. Just two months later, the price jumped again to $1,023.50 per ounce. The price of gold continues to rise.

  • December 2, 2009: Gold prices surpassed $1,200, closing at $1,215.
  • March 1, 2011: Gold prices closed at $1,432.57 per ounce.
  • August 23, 2011: A record high of $1,913.50 was set.

2012 Gold Prices

2012 Gold Prices

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Investors were not disappointed with gold prices in 2012. Prices never met the astounding benchmark of the previous year, but gold has not closed at less than $1,500 per ounce on any given day this year. Since early September, gold prices remain steady, averaging around $1,700 per ounce. Financial analysts see a trend in prices that compares to the large increase the market experienced in 2009. According to this trend, gold prices will not fall below $1,760 per ounce and are projected to increase to a lucrative $2,400 high by the summer of 2013.

With trends like these and a stability the stock market could never offer, there’s never been a better time to start investing in gold. Buying gold in 2012 promises to yield excellent returns in the short-term future.

Surprising Gold Laws Around the Nation: An Investor’s Guide

There are surprising, some might even say nonsensical, laws in every part of the United States. In Owensboro, Kentucky, a wife must get her husband’s permission before buying a hat, according to city law. Surprising gold laws around the nation aren’t always as funny.

Weird Federal Gold Laws

Federal Gold Laws

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The federal government has been regulating gold and trading in gold for a long, long time. The U.S. Treasury Department has been making coins and bills to serve as currency since the 1700s. The United States has been minting gold coins for just as long. Today, gold coins have a changing value that depends on weight and certain global economic factors.

The worth of gold coins is also determined by certain federal gold laws, some of them rather surprising. American Eagle gold coins were first minted in 1986 and approved through Congress the year before. These gold coins are traded around the world, but they’re strictly USA-made. That’s the law.

The American Eagle gold coin is bound by federal law. It may only be minted in 22-karat gold, and only from newly-mined sources within the boundaries of the United States. Because American Eagle coins can only be made from American gold, the Treasury Department is limited in how many coins they can create. Also by law, silver and copper are added to American Eagle gold coins to prevent scratching and improve overall durability. This means that the coins themselves aren’t comprised solely of pure gold, and some find all these laws and regulations surrounding American gold coins to be very surprising.

Surprising State Laws Regarding Gold

State Gold Laws

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Thanks to the U.S. Constitution, every state has the right to govern itself…but that doesn’t mean they always come up with the most reasonable laws. There are surprising laws regarding gold in several states around the nation. If you don’t know the laws, you’re in danger of violating them!

  • California: Selling a gold piece that doesn’t contain tooth marks is an illegal forgery.
  • New Jersey: Purchasing gold is regulated in New Jersey, where pawnbrokers and jewelers commonly deal in the metal. Many different laws are in place to protect the seller against buyers to make sure that they receive their money’s worth for gold items. One law states that gold buyers must publicly post the prices they pay for precious metals.
  • Utah: Gold and silver coins are legal tender statewide. Thanks to a new law signed in October 2012, it’s legal to pay state taxes in gold and silver coins. Because of the law, no capital gains or state taxes will be levied during coin exchanges. Federal taxes, however, do still apply.
  • Washington: It’s legal to prospect for gold in Washington State. Get the Gold and Fish booklet from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to get all the rules and regulations of gold mining in Washington.

Gold investors have to know all the laws regarding their commodity, because breaking a law could result in having gold confiscated by the government. If you’re dealing in gold, know what you’re dealing with backwards and forwards – in every state where you plan to buy, sell or trade.