Sit down and relax because gold has a long and winding story to tell. It has been the subject of wars, a declaration of love, a representation of the sun, and used to view the heavens. Our minds boggle to think that by as early as 325 BC, gold had already been mined from Gibraltar all the way to Asia Minor.
Gold was first smelted in approximately 3,600 BC. Goldsmiths in Egypt melted and fused ores to separate containing metals. Smelting furnaces were heated by blowpipes crafted from fire-resistant clay. One of the earliest known pieces of gold jewelry was crafted by Mesopotamian goldsmiths in 2,600 BC. It was a burial headdress that featured carnelian and lapis beads and gold pendants shaped like willow leaves.
Many are familiar with the golden funeral mask made for Tutankhamen, which was created in 1,223 BC. King Solomon of Israel took things further by having gold overlay placed on his temple in 950 BC. Etruscan dentists used gold wire to secure substitute teeth beginning in 600 BC, opening the door for the use of gold in dentistry, still a practice today.
In 564 BC, you could buy gold coins of the day, called Croesids. These were the first gold currency to be standardized on the planet. Many years later, gold mining and production declined due to major European mines becoming depleted. Just two years after The Great Bullion Famine ended in 1420, the Venice Mint struck a record-breaking 1.2 million gold ducats.
By 1511, explorers were heading to the Americas to find gold, at the request of King Ferdinand of Spain. About two hundred years later, Britain moved to a gold standard and between 1870 and 1900 all major countries but China followed. When John Marshall discovered gold near Sacramento, California in 1848, the greatest gold rush began. Even last year has a place in history, as gold prices reached record highs.