Gold - not just for jewellery

Gold is the perfect commodity. Resistant to rust and corrosion, gold is the world’s most reliable and durable electrical conductor, essential for computer electronics and satellite communications technologies.

Gold has vital uses in green technologies, healthcare and our digital world.

It’s estimated that more than 75 per cent of gold consumed each year is made into jewellery.

And because it’s so rare and highly valued, it’s not surprising gold makes a natural currency, is traded globally and seen as an enduring investment.

Gold is used in a huge range of other ways, including:

  • Medicine - In cancer treatment, radioactive gold isotope particles are set in tissues and used as a source of radiation. Aurothioglucose injections help in dealing with rheumatoid arthritis. Gold is also applied in life-support devices and some forms of medical diagnosis.

  • Dentistry - Gold alloys are required for orthodontic appliances, bridges, crowns and fillings. It’s highly suitable because it is non-allergenic and chemically inert.

  • Computers - Laptops, desktop computers, mobile phones and other electronic gadgets all have gold components. These devices require precise and quick information transmission. Computers need a good conductor, and no other metal does it as well as gold. Nickel and other metals are alloyed for increased strength.

  • Electronics - Because gold is such an efficient conductor, it is widely used in electronics. Solid state electronics are susceptible to tarnish and corrosion, but gold can transmit the currents without risk of corrosion. It can be found in connection strips, connecting wires, soldered joints and relay contacts.

  • Mobile phones – A mobile phone contains on average 50 milligrams of gold.  With an estimated seven billion phones worldwide, that adds up to 350 tonnes of gold contained in these devises.  It would take New Zealand 30 years to produce that much gold.

  • Making Glass - Gold is also used in making glass, usually as a pigment. Typically, a small quantity is dangled in glass as it is annealed. The result is a vivid ruby hue. Some manufacturers use gold to make specialty glass for climate-controlled complexes.

  • Space Technology – Gold is used by NASA in their space shuttles. The metal is used in circuitry as a connector and conductor. Gold layered polyester film is applied in spacecraft helping with temperature stabilisation and infrared radiation reflection.

Emerging uses for gold nano particles include catalysts in industrial processes; pollution reduction in air and water; fuel cells and lithium air batteries and in solar cells.


Updated Oct 2018