Gold has been treasured since ancient times for its beauty and permanence. Most of the gold that is fabricated today goes into the manufacture of jewelry. However, because of its superior electrical conductivity and resistance to corrosion and other desirable combinations of physical and chemical properties, gold also emerged in the late 20th century as an essential industrial metal. Gold performs critical functions in computers, communications equipment, spacecraft, jet aircraft engines, and a host of other products. Although gold is important to industry and the arts, it also retains a unique status among all commodities as a long-term store of value. Until recent times, it was considered essentially a monetary metal, and most of the bullion produced each year went into the vaults of government treasuries or central banks.
- Table 1.--Salient gold statistics