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A particularly valuable precious metal. Gold is an element with the atomic number 79. It is used for jewelry, electronics and for other purposes. Historically, gold was used in many cultures as the basis for currency, but this is no longer the case. Investments in gold are often used as a hedge against inflation because it tends to maintain its value over time.


a mineral that is used both as an industrial base metal and for ornamental purposes, and is held by governments as part of their stock of INTERNATIONAL RESERVE assets in order to finance balance of payments deficits. Formerly, in the UK and many other countries, gold coins formed the basis of the domestic MONEY SUPPLY, but gold has now been replaced by banknotes and brass and nickel coins as the cash component of the money supply. See BULLION MARKET, WORLD GOLD COUNCIL.


a monetary ASSET that is held by countries as part of their INTERNATIONAL RESERVES and used to finance BALANCE OF PAYMENTS deficits.

Formerly, many countries operated a GOLD STANDARD system under which gold was used as the basis of a country's domestic MONEY SUPPLY as well as being used to finance payments deficits. Gradually, however, the ‘pure’ gold standard gave way to domestic monetary systems based on paper money and other metallic coins and, internationally, the gold-exchange standard in which foreign currencies such as sterling and the American dollar were used alongside gold as reserve assets.

In 1935 the price of gold was ‘fixed’ at $35 per fine ounce by the USA, Britain and France as part of a monetary pact between the three countries. This price was then ‘officially’ adopted by member countries of the INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND on its formation in 1947; gold was used as the NUMERAIRE of the Fund's fixed exchange-rate system in setting par values for members’ currencies, and members were required to pay one quarter of their ‘quota subscriptions to the Fund in gold. Gold continued to serve as the linchpin of the IMF system, and its ‘official’ price remained pegged at $35 per ounce, down to 1971, when the Fund's fixed exchange-rate system gave way to floating exchange rates. Countries had, however, found it increasingly difficult to hold the price of gold at the $35 per ounce level as world demand for gold as an industrial metal and for ornamental purposes continued to expand. In 1961 a ‘gold pool’ was set up to regulate dealings in the metal, but in 1968 Fund members bowed to the inevitable and a ‘two-tier’ price structure was established; gold continued to be priced at $35 per ounce for ‘official’ transactions between countries’ central banks and the Fund, while the ‘free’ market price of gold was left to be determined by market forces.

In 1972, gold was dropped as the numeraire of the Fund and replaced by the SPECIAL DRAWING RIGHT unit, the Fund's existing gold holdings were sold off, and members were required to subscribe their quotas in a non-gold form. Outside the Fund, many countries have sold off part of their gold reserves, with the UK being particularly active in 1999, having taken the decision to reduce its gold holdings to around 8% of its total reserves. Overall, gold accounts for only some 0.3% of total international reserves. The market price of gold has fallen substantially over the past decade. In 1989 the price of gold averaged around $850 per ounce. Following UK gold sales in 1999, the price of gold at one point fell as low as $250 per ounce. However, despite the determination of the USA and a number of other major gold holders to put a moratorium on gold sales, the price of gold has remained depressed - currently (April 2005), it is around $430 per ounce.

The attractiveness of gold as a reserve asset is underpinned by the fact that, unlike national paper currencies (which are intrinsically worthless), it has a value in exchange as a commodity related to its use as an industrial base metal and for ornamental purposes. Gold holdings, however, suffer from the disadvantage that, compared with other assets such as STOCKS and SHARES, they yield no interest return.

References in periodicals archive ?
Selenis' cast mate Lolita Foster ("Orange Is The New Black") was obsessed with a large flexible cocktail ring that includes over 2 carats of round diamonds set in 14k white gold, and priced at $12,742.
Farmers have been tremendously supportive and demonstrated a keen interest," said Bob Beavan, general manager of White Gold.
Not a honey devotee (most are too sweet and have a distinct, strong, unappealing flavor), I was skeptical, but pleasantly surprised when I sampled the White Gold Honey as it was not overly sweet, but rather delicious and very mild.
According to Cheshire police, three sets of white gold earrings were stolen as well as a white gold tennis bracelet.
One Cream jacket (Wallis) - pounds 90 Black bootcut trousers (Wallis) - pounds 40 Pave diamond set Astrale ring in 18ct white gold by Bulgari (Parkhouse & Wyatt) - pounds 2,300 Ladies Cartier Tank American watch in 18ct white gold, set with diamonds on the case (Parkhouse & Wyatt) - pounds 14,500
White gold mine in Balmertown is Dickenson Mines' biggest income earner.
Classic Akoya Pearl Earrings in 18k White Gold, from $165 The most versatile pearl earring style, luminous round Akoya cultured pearls are mounted on 18k white gold and perfect for everyday wear.
Forevermark Circle Earrings with Fancy Shaped Forevermark Diamonds set in 18k White Gold 5.
Perennially glamorous, the Blossom semi-mount ring by Frederic Sage makes a statement with pave diamonds set in white gold half rainbow arches.
WORK by a dozen artists producing porcelain tableware has gone on show as part of the White Gold exhibition at Nantgarw China Works Museum.
face theliverpoolecho In the first lot, currently on sale at the Titan eBay shop, is a white gold diamond-set bracelet valued at PS3,200, a Jacobs & Co diamond-set watch worth PS2,000, a white gold stone-set line necklace valued at PS1,000 and a white gold diamond-set ring valued at PS350.
We were friends almost straight away and by the age of 10 we knew we would grow old together THE PROPOSAL: Christmas day morning, in 2008, at Stacy's parents' house THE WEDDING RINGS: White gold cut diamond for the bride and white gold brushed band for the groom WHAT DID THE BRIDE WEAR?