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The Glint of Gold

As Howard Carter exclaimed upon his historical discovery of the young Pharaoh’s tomb in 1922; he could see wondrous things and everywhere “ the glint of gold”. Since time immemorial we have been captivated by the simple beauty of this pure earth mineral: for some the appeal is its colour and scarcity; for others: its eternal incorruptible nature that holds us in thrall.

The old Latin name for gold Aurum means ‘shining dawn’ which gives us the chemical elementsymbol Au and its modern name has Germanic origins referring to the yellow colour, Gelb (yellow in German).
Places of worship, palaces and mausoleums were adorned with gold as a symbol of status or high regard - the gold often worked into wafer thin layers known as ‘leaf’. Gold is a very ductile material and can be pulled into fine thread - this property was used to exquisite effect among illuminated manuscripts such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and high status books which were decorated with gold to demonstrate reverence.

Gold’s malleable nature allows it to be shaped easily - as such it has been prized for working into jewellery throughout antiquity. Jewels recovered from Ancient Egypt to the stunning costumes, jewellery and ornaments from Mughal India are awe inspiring! In more recent times we have discoveries such as the Staffordshire Hoard - discovered by a metal detectorist in 2009 near Lichfield. The hoard contains the largest collection of Anglo Saxon treasure ever found including over 4000 items! - believed to have been buried in the 7th Century. On display now it still exhibits incredible brilliance: as though made yesterday!

Pre Columbian peoples believed gold to be divine and that it fell from the sky! It had more spiritual associations than the monetary value we think of today . When The Spanish arrived; the allure of such abundance of gold proved irresistible. They plundered this as a means to unrivalled wealth and ultimately power.
Gold represents wealth and privilege as well as carrying everyday symbolism of human love and devotion - still evidenced today with the exchanging of wedding bands. Traditional plain gold bands are preferred because this noble metal will never tarnish. Gold charms - still popular today - hold a special significance for the wearer - worn originally as talismans to protect against ill fortune. Gold rings and watches were a traditional gift offered on special occasions - coming
of age, good service rewards and retirement gifts. For men; gold cuff links, signet rings, pens and watches make a gift extra special. For ladies : shiny gold lockets, bangles, chains and pendants add flair and always look classic. A touch of gold complements just about any outfit and even simple chains and gold earrings always add glamour!

Gold is a dense material and its heaviness means that small flakes and fragments can be found in rivers and alluvial deposits literally worldwide. In the UK we have our famous Welsh gold - highly favoured still by the Royal Family. In California/ East coast of America we had the Gold Rush of the mid 1800s where some 300,000 keen pundits raced to be the first to ‘strike gold” - a phrase we still use today! Boom towns such as San Francisco began to pop up throughout California as a result of this entirely pure chance discovery of gold nuggets in a river bed by a
carpenter who was surveying the area to erect a new sawmill!

Gold holds associations with high achievement or accolade - the Oscar statues are gold plated and in the sporting field, the highest attainment is a gold medal - we ‘go for gold’, we describe things as being “worth their weight in gold” or people who are ‘good as gold’ - the word has literally become part of our vernacular.

Gold has the allure of luxury and its appeal will always endure!

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