What is Gold Used For?

Gold bars on a dark background.
Gold bars on a dark background.

Gold is a bright, soft, ductile, dense, malleable, and faintly reddish-yellow metal. It is usually solid under normal conditions. Gold is more useful than all the other naturally occurring minerals. Its usefulness is derived from its numerous unique properties. Gold conducts electricity, can be converted into sheets or wires, alloys well with other metals, and doesn’t tarnish. Gold can also be easily melted and cast into numerous detailed shapes.

The Uses of Gold


Gold has been used to make jewelry and decorative objects for centuries. All the gold-nuggets collected along the streams were very easy to use, and they were probably the first metals used by human beings. Currently, a huge percentage of recycled or mined gold is used to make jewelry. Over 78% of the gold used annually is used to make jewelry. Some of the special properties of gold that makes it perfect for making jewelry include its popular color, high luster, ability to be cast into any shape, and tarnish resistance among others. Gold is soft; therefore, it’s alloyed with other metals. Alloying this metal changes its color. An alloy of copper (9%), silver (16%), and gold (75%) is yellow gold. White gold contains palladium (17%), copper (4%), silver (4%), and gold (75%). Pure gold is always marked "24K" while an alloy containing 75% gold is marked "18K", and 50% gold is "12K".

Financial Gold

Due to its limited supply and high value, gold has been used as medium-of-exchange for a very long time. Transactions were done using silver and gold pieces during the ancient times. The first known usage of gold as a medium of exchange dates back to over 6,000 years ago. Some of the early printed paper money, including the dollar, was backed by gold. 

Medical Uses of Gold

Gold is used to treat some medical conditions like cancer. Some radioactive gold isotopes are usually implanted in tissues to help treat certain types of cancer. Gold is also used to treat lagophthalmos (inability for an individual to close his/her eyes completely). Lagophthalmos is healed by injecting a small amount of gold in the upper eyelids. The gold increases the weight of the eyelid and gravity forces the eye to close fully. A weak solution of aurothioglucose or sodium aurothiomalate is used to heal rheumatoid arthritis. A colloidal solution of gold can be injected as a beta-emitter that is tracked as it passed through the body.

Other Uses of Gold

Gold alloys are used to make various dentistry appliances like orthodontic appliances, bridges, crowns, and fillings because it’s chemically inert, easy to work and non-allergic. The edge-connectors used when mounting memory-chips and microprocessors on a computer motherboard have some gold. It is also used when manufacturing specialty-glasses for climate-controlled casings and buildings. Gold sheets also referred to as gold leaf are applied on the uneven surfaces of frames, furniture, and even buildings.


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