How did gold become a universally precious metal throughout the world?


How did gold become a universally precious metal throughout the world?

In: 3

Gold is sometimes called the “noblest metal,” because it doesn’t readily oxidize. Most other metals oxidize – iron rusts, copper turns green, silver tarnishes, etc. But gold just kind of… stays gold. It’s pretty scarce all around the world, you find it in a pure state (unlike most other metals which are mined as oxides, you mine gold as tiny flecks of gold in larger rocks,) and it’s shiny. Once you have it, it’s reasonably easy to work with because it’s also the most malleable metal – you can pull gold into wires that are as wide as a single atom.

Super easy for metallurgy – you can easly smith it without heat at all.

Shiny as sun – got religious meaning all around the glob as Sun is super important. In cultures with low developed astrology sun also was connected to main deity ( with higher astrology development main deity went to Jupiter )

Does not disolves in most of acids. Main development of chemestry (alchemy) started from puting everythin into acids ( a lot if reasons why). Thus it became noble metal and had been connected to long life)

It is quite rare

Taking above together it becames a precious trading comodity. Platinum was more rare but did not have religios connections and was considered as trash for a long time.

Aristotle thought about what money needs to be and came up with a few requirements. Gold is one of the few things in the world that satisfies all of them:

* Its density makes it hard to counterfeit or easy to check (pure gold is very heavy for it’s size), it’s almost twice as dense as lead (19.32g/cm3 vs 11.35g/cm3 ). Every other natural material is either less dense, super rare, or much harder to refine than gold.
* It’s very malleable (which makes it possible to separate pieces of any size). That means its possible to make change by weight long before coinage is standardized.
* It’s very durable (gold doesn’t oxidize) so it lasts even under salt water or when exposed to most acids or bases.
* It’s rare enough to be valuable, but common enough that it was found by an enormous number of cultures (it’s also frequently found in a pure or nearly pure form). Gemstones satisfy some of these same requirements but are only found in a few locations in the world. While silver is a bit too common. The amount of silver to buy the average US home is more than most people can carry (480 kg) while it’s about 7 kg of gold (things that are more common than silver are harder to move in economically useful amounts).

The first two make it a good medium of exchange. While the last two make it a good store of value. Money should be able to do both. Modern currency meets these requirements too, but the rarity entirely depends on trusting politicians not to print more.

It’s rare, it looks good, and it doesn’t tarnish or get dirty. It’s also relatively easy to work for a metal, so easier than most to make into art.

So if I can make a beautiful ornamented piece of headwear and the next guy can’t, then obviously I’m cooler, richer, and more powerful.

I’ll add to the other explanations: Platinum is even slightly better in some of these useful properties, but is far less common in the Earth’s crust so much less was available to early civilisations, making them favour Gold over it