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It's a metal and it's very expensive. But there's more to it than that. It's got a gold mania effect to it where people do silly things to get gold.
Because demand outstrips supply, the value remains very high. But gold has a remarkable number of practical uses. That's because it does not corrode or react with many things. It's also got a very high electrical conductivity.
And it looks good. This, combined with not corroding, makes it useful for making jewellery
The price of gold on the stockmarket varies according to how much trouble and war there is in the world. The more war there is, the higher the price of gold. Of course the gold is just as valuable in peacetime; it's just that when belligerent governments start sabre-rattling, it devalues people's confidence in government-issued "paper" money, so the banknotes are worth less, and this makes the gold appear to cost more.
Also worth mentioning is that when you see scenes in movies where gold is being shifted by hand, the acting seldom is good enough to show how surprisingly heavy the gold actually is. At a density of 19.3 it's about twice has heavy as lead. More about this phenomenon: fake gold in movies too light
To be added here:
Fort Knox - was http://www.ustreas.gov/opc/opc0079.html
BANK OF ENGLAND
LIST OF GOLD MINES
Pictures On Gold
Money 4 Gold
World Gold Council
Discovery of gold in California
GOLDSMITHS AND JEWELLERS
Gold Recycling: H.Samuel Gold Recycling
Also see Platinum and Silver
To add to here, for example to enlighten me on some good URLs, or to promote your own company if you're in to gold business, e-mail
Anything else? Yes, goldfish, and Goldfish Finance
The price of gold varies. It can go down if there is peace in the world, or it can go up if there is war and belligerence by some nations and/or a credit crisis. When the Bank of England dumped a huge amount of gold, the price fell a long way, making the next consignment of gold dumped by the Bank of England worth even less. Then during the "credit crunch", the price of gold soared to ridiculous prices. It is a risky thing to put your money on, even more risky than gambling!
At a density of 19.3 , gold bars are very heavy and make very good door-stops. The problem is, they are very expensive. However, you can get a quite realistic looking fake gold bar as a doorstop for a sensible price from Laughing Donkey