However, the lustrous and metallic qualities of gold, its relative scarcity and the difficulty of extraction have only increased the perception of gold as a valuable asset. So it turns out that the reason why gold is precious is precisely because it is so chemically uninteresting. It is estimated that just over 200,000 tons of gold have been mined throughout history, most of which has been in the past 70 years, according to the World Gold Council. Gold doesn't rust, tarnish and doesn't tarnish because gold doesn't react with almost anything.
Since it first caught the attention of man, its brilliance and color have given gold considerable decorative appeal and this is reflected in the fact that almost half of the gold mined has been converted into jewelry. If you put together all the earrings, all the golden rulers, the small traces of gold on each computer chip, each pre-Columbian statuette, each wedding ring and cast it, it is estimated that you would only have a 20-meter cube left or something like that. This is due to the enormous investment market surrounding gold, since the amount of gold traded daily far exceeds the total physical supply of the metal. In the 16th century, the discovery of South America and its vast gold deposits caused a huge fall in the value of gold and, therefore, an enormous increase in the price of everything else.
This was known as the gold standard and, although governments abandoned it in the 1970s, central banks continue to accumulate large quantities of gold, amounting to about 35,000 tons, or approximately one-fifth of the amount of gold that has been mined. In times of crisis, whether due to a war or because of an economic slowdown, investors tend to resort to “safe” assets, such as gold, with an ounce of physical gold more attractive, while the share of an individual stock or, in fact, the broader index, plummets. Pure gold is too soft to be a metal, so much so that people used to bite into coins to check for gold. Human tooth enamel has a Mohs hardness of 5, while gold has only 2.5, so teeth can make a dent in a piece of gold, but not a gold-plated coin.
So what exactly made gold so valuable and expensive, and why did several peoples show such interest in converting it into currencies? Surprisingly, it's not so much about the properties of gold, but about those that other elements don't have.