Gold has many unique qualities – it is exceptionally malleable and ductile, conductive and does not corrode or tarnish. Gold also combines well with other metals to form an alloy. Its versatility makes it ideal for use in many industrial applications, and increasingly, its application as a nanomaterial is being used to create new solutions for a number of health and environmental challenges.
Principal uses of Gold
- Gold is a long-term store of value inGold is a long-term store of value independent of other assets. As its price often moves contra-cyclically, it can protect or enhance the performance of an investment portfolio and reduce volatility. Demand for gold rose 10% in 2021, with increases in most areas including central bank buying and jewellery sales, as broader economic uncertainty and inflationary fears remained and consumer markets rebounded from poor sales during the first year of the pandemic in 2020
- Central banks are also a strong source of demand, with volumes having increased steadily over the past decade
- Historically, gold jewellery has been the strongest source of demand, accounting for around 50% of total demand. In 2021, jewellery demand rose 52%, recovering from losses sustained during 2020
- The largest gold jewellery markets are India and China
Medicine and dentistry
- Gold nanoparticles are used in rapid diagnostic testing, which have helped to revolutionise the diagnosis of diseases such as HIV/Aids. Gold nanoparticles also deliver anti-cancer drugs directly to tumours.
- Gold-based drugs are being developed to treat diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Gold’s being malleable and non-allergenic makes it ideal for use in dentistry.
Technology, aerospace, environment
- Gold wire is widely used in almost all electronic devices that make the internet function – computers, mobile phones, global positioning systems, etc. As an efficient and reliable conductor and connector, it enables the rapid, accurate transmission of data.
- In space, layers of gold are used to protect astronauts and equipment from heat and radiation.
- Gold nanoparticles are used to improve the efficiency of solar cells and panels.
- Environmentally, nanoparticles are used to clean contaminated groundwater by breaking down pollutants.