What it is: A shimmering, metallic-yellow chemical element that is considered to be one of the earth’s most precious metals.

Where it comes from: Gold has been found on every continent in the world, including the world’s oceans, and occurs as nuggets or grains in rocks, in veins, and in alluvial deposits. Egyptian hieroglyphs from as early as 2600 B.C. claimed gold was “more plentiful than dirt” in Egypt. 

Properties: Gold is dense, soft, shiny, and is the most malleable and ductile pure metal known. Gold leaf can also be beaten thin enough to become translucent.

What it’s good for: Since it is non-toxic, biologically benign, and never rusts, gold is commonly used for many medical applications. Injectable gold has also been shown to help reduce pain and swelling associated with rheumatoid arthritis and tuberculosis.

Where you’ll find it: In nail artistry, technicians often incorporate gold flakes or gold powder, as well as various brands of clear lacquer filled with gold leaf pieces. The shiny metal is also included in gourmet foods, restorative beauty creams, and higher-end hair products, mainly for aesthetic appeal.

Other uses: Gold is used for jewelry, dentistry, electronics, minting, and is also the standard behind many monetary systems around the world. Metallic gold is also a component of the alcoholic drinks Goldschläger, Gold Strike, and Goldwasser.

Fun fact: The 165,000 tons of gold that have been mined throughout all of history are barely enough to fill two Olympic-size swimming pools.

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