On the periodic table of elements, gold is represented by the abbreviation “Au” (from Aurum, the Latin term for gold) and has the atomic number 79. Ductile, soft and shiny, gold is the most malleable metal on earth. In its pure form, its beautiful shine and radiant yellow colour make it highly prized as a precious and attractive metal. It maintains its beauty without oxidising in water or in air. Naturally, it appears in alluvial deposits (river beds), in veins or grains in rock and in nugget form.
Since the earliest days of the human race, gold has been highly prized and sought out for coins, arts and jewellery. The “gold standard” has also been the common base for money and currency throughout human history. As of 2009, a grand total of 165 thousand tons of gold had been collected throughout human history, or around 5.3 billion ounces.
Besides its aesthetic and currency-related functions, gold has a multitude of other practical uses in electronics, dentistry and other industries, due to its soft and malleable nature, corrosion resistance and high electrical conductivity.
White vs Yellow
The original and timeless yellow version of gold is a pure and comparatively soft metal. Other alloys in small amounts, such as Zinc or Copper, are combined into it in order to provide hardness and strength to the jewellery. 24 karat gold is generally accepted to be 99.99 per cent pure gold, with the remainder comprising these other alloys.
White gold, nowadays, is often chosen as the material from which to make jewellery, especially wedding and engagement rings. The colour difference is due to alloys mixed into the pure gold, often nickel and palladium. Furthermore, these pieces are often plated with rhodium to provide a better lustre and shiny finish. Because nickel can cause allergic reactions, it is sometimes also substituted with manganese.
White gold, currently is in higher demand than yellow gold. This is due in part to the ever-rising desirability of platinum, silver and titanium for the production of jewellery. It is not only more trendy and fashionable, but also harder and stronger, while still being just as light in weight as yellow gold. The possible downsides are that the nickel sometimes used in its production has been known to cause allergic skin reactions, and the rhodium plating may require frequent polishing to maintain is shine. Yellow gold is comparatively safe in terms of allergies, but is very soft and therefore may be easily scratched.