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Home > A little history about gold

A little history about gold

Gold, a precious metal

Gold is the best known and most sought after precious metal. Appreciated in the form of gold jewelry or coins since the dawn of history, this metal in its natural state comes in the form of nuggets, which may have been reduced to powder or flakes by mechanical erosion.

Pure gold is a noble metal, the most malleable and ductile of all known metals, both dense and soft. It is a bright yellow metal that does not oxidize in air or water : the fact that it preserves its brilliance, perceived as aesthetic by all human cultures, gives it its essential value. The color of pure gold is a sparkling yellow, it is dazzling and reminds us of the sun by its alchemical symbol. 

Gold, its history

Gold, before being the material par excellence of jewelry, was born in nature. It is a mineral and belongs to the family of precious metals like its cousins silver, platinum and palladium. It is composed of a single chemical element that we note "Au" from the Latin "aurum" and atomic number 79.

Man has used gold since the end of prehistoric times. It is the second metal known to man after copper. Gold was mainly used for the adornment of the powerful and for religious ceremonies. The assimilation of gold to the divinized solar disk was one of the most powerful levers. We find gold amulets in Egyptian tombs at each of the great periods of ancient Egypt. The most powerful, such as Tutankhamun and Ramses, were buried with gold death masks and other ornaments.

It is during the Antiquity, in the second half of the seventh century B.C. that appeared the first currency of the history. This use spread to Persia, central Greece, and then throughout the ancient world during the Hellenistic period alongside silver, bronze and copper coins of lesser value. Gold was continuously used as a currency in the West until 1973, when it was stripped of its last monetary role as an international reserve currency.

The search for gold was one of the reasons for the conquest of the American continent. Thus, Hernán Cortés undertook the conquest of the Aztec Empire, in particular to seize the gold that they possessed. Thus, the gold that flowed from the mines of the New World caused the wealth of Spain and Portugal in the early modern period, before benefiting other European states that were better able to capture it, such as France and Britain.

In the mid-19th century, a gold rush began in California and contributed in part to the conquest of the American West and the demographic and economic growth of many Californian cities. 
Gold was used as the exclusive monetary standard (the gold standard), first in the United Kingdom and then throughout the world after gold-silver bimetallism was abandoned in the 1870s. The 1914 war put an end to this system, which could never be re-established. In 1971, the United States suspended the convertibility of the dollar into gold and in 1976, gold no longer had an official monetary role.

However, gold remained in the reserves of the major central banks as a precautionary measure. The world's largest reserve of monetary gold is in the United States, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. However, gold still plays a significant economic role. It is listed on the main Western stock exchanges, New York, London and Tokyo. The transactions that take place on this value, especially in times of crisis, are considered an important economic barometer.

Today, gold also retains its artistic functions in medals, jewelry and gilding. It represents a safe haven in the face of the irregularities of the stock market. The gold repurchase is also practiced in order to bring you liquidity.

Gold and Jewelry

The use of gold in traditional jewelry goes back to the dawn of time.
Today, gold is used in the form of alloys in jewelry and is characterized by its caretaking and color.

  •  Pure gold 1000/1000 - 24 karats - cannot be used as such in jewelry because it is too malleable.
    Gold 750/1000th - 18 karats - is the most widespread. Resistant and easily worked, it is the material of choice for jewelry houses. The Baume House only offers for sale jewelry made of 750/1000th - 18 karat gold. 18 karat yellow gold is composed of 75% pure gold, combined with copper and silver. The white gold 18 carats is composed of 75% of pure gold mixed with palladium, copper and silver. White gold can be coated with a thin layer of rhodium to make the metal whiter and more brilliant.
  • The 525/1000th - 14 karat - gold tends to develop because of the soaring price of pure gold. More malleable than 18 karat gold, it remains of acceptable quality.
  • The 325/1000th - 9 karat - gold is unfortunately more and more frequent. Still called low grade gold, it gives the jewel a limited life span and a mediocre resistance to daily shocks.

Gold alloys are also sometimes found. These contain a small amount of gold, making the jewelry often dull and worthless. 

The jewelry industry has long offered a range of different gold colors to meet the needs of consumers. Gold exists in yellow gold, green gold, pink gold, white gold or black gold.

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