U.S. history books are filled with stories of the gold miners of the 1800s, and Fort Knox is world-famous as a repository of massive amounts of this most precious metal. Gold has been in high demand for thousands of years and the purer its state, the better.
Gold is a naturally occurring metallic element that is considered a precious metal because of its rarity and is used in coins, jewelry, and dentures. As a precious metal it is less reactive, has a high luster, and is more malleable than many other elements. the symbol for gold Au is from the Latin word Aurum and means shining dawn.
The process of refining gold can be traced as far back as 6000BC though most early gold artifacts are rarely pure and contain significant amounts of silver in them. The gold of the ancients therefore varied from pure to electrum (an alloy of silver and gold) to white gold. Since gold in nature can be found uncombined with other elements, many early goldsmiths would pick gold nuggets from rivers and streams and weld them together by hammering.
The process of refining gold from the original ore can be a little more detailed than we might expect. It encompasses different methods to extract the courser gold from other gold-bearing material. This process begins with crushing the stones containing the gold and in many cases includes calcining or roasting certain ores to dissipate the sulphur, or sulphides of arsenic, and lead.
The final result of the refining process are the different types of gold. Depending on the state of the original ore and the extent of the refining process, gold is ultimately use in its purest 24 karat state to other level of purity. The pure gold has no oxides and is not effected by oxygen.
Though the common goldsmith with the proper training can refine small amounts of gold with relative ease, the refining of large amounts of gold requires the proper facilities.
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