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Gold Trends From 1700 to Now: How Booty Became Bling

Gold is one of the best conducting metals known to mankind. It's also nearly impervious to sulfuric acid due to its nearly unique chemical nature. As if this wasn't enough, gold can be hammered down to only one atom of thickness and worked like clay in its pure state. The physical characteristics of gold are incredible, both above and beyond its aesthetic appeal.

eBay Gold and Silver is beautiful, and more importantly it's rare. That's why it started out as a way to venerate royalty and is still worn to show off social status and wealth. The following are some different trends in how gold has been used and thought of since the 18th century.

1700: An Age of Conquest

Back in the 18th century, gold was a luxury fit for monarchy. But while the heads and bosoms of kings and queens were weighed down by incredible jewelry, their kingdoms were kept afloat by it. Gold had already found its place as the basic form of money and the single-handed solution to bartering. In 1700 Brazil became the world's largest gold-producing nation by a huge margin, and Portugal profited richly from its Brazil imports.

In the interests of growth and expansion, entire native civilizations had already been pushed to the brink of annihilation by that point. Eventually subsequent generations of world leaders would apologize for the slaughter and theft of entire cultures, but they still kept the gold.

1800s: The First Modern Standard

In 1816, the British pegged the value of their currency at a particular amount of gold. 1817 saw England release the one ounce sovereign, which marked one of the first modern examples of individuals investing in gold. From that point onward, countries began to realize that everyone wanted the shiny stone. By the 1870s, every major country on Earth besides China had their currency pegged to a particular quantity of gold.

Other than during major wars, gold and its export would remain the underlying method of trade between nations until well into the 20th century. This newly minted gold standard made trade between nations far easier, except naturally when they were at war with one another.

1848: Gold Fever

In 1848, the discovery of gold flakes during the construction of a sawmill in California led to one of the largest gold rushes in American history. While the shiny metal had been found in other parts of the US previously, the quantities in the western US were unprecedented for the region. The largely untamed nature of the West led many adventuresome individuals into the wilds to seek their fortunes with pans and pickaxes.

While the main beneficiaries of the Gold Rush were general stores and guides, some "49ers" - a common nickname of the miners - did indeed soothe their gold fevers with rich stashes of brilliant wealth. Some of the symptoms of gold fever include:

• Thickly calloused hands
• Paranoia and insomnia
• Daydreaming about one's future plans with their new-found affluence
• Intense fatigue
• Chronic frustration
• Delusional attachments to particular areas

In time most of the wannabe gold miners went home empty-handed with their bodies and savings depleted.

1944: A Universal Standard

In the aftermath of World War II, the Bretton Woods System came into favor. While some European nations had abandoned the trading of gold earlier in the century to keep their supplies up, the ultimate solution came about when the United States based its currency on gold and most other nations based their currency on the Dollar.

This standard would continue for decades. While Bretton Woods was in effect countries could easily exchange goods and services, which led Europe to rebuild its shattered infrastructure with haste and efficiency. In the shadow of the largest war humanity has ever survived, gold became known as a symbol of strength and stability in a world that had very nearly been torn apart.

1961: The Origins of the Digital World

Gold does more than just sit there and look pretty. Between the 1940s and the 1960s, huge technological innovations came about when engineers discovered how effectively gold could join circuits together. From these origins the transistor radio and the microchip were born, and they ushered in an entirely new era of technology and trade. Intellectual property spread faster than ever because of these technologies and mankind even used gold as essential components of space missions.

If not for gold, you probably wouldn't even be reading this on the Internet right now. This era marks the first time gold was used as an unseen, unsung hero. Before, the shiny metal had only been employed as a means of overtly expressing power and affluence.

1993: Bling Bling, Baby

In 1993, Super Cat, the Notorious BIG and Puff Daddy released a song called "Dolly My Baby" where they employed the term 'bling bling' as an expression of gaudy wealth. While the idea of bling has become extremely mainstream today, rappers and photoshopped politicians have been expressing their wealth through ridiculous levels of gold for decades.

The idea of bling goes along with the idea of capitalism itself. Whereas royalty merely inherited their wealth, today a young hoodlum can grow up with an empty stomach and turn that hunger into a massive fortune. When that young person arrives, it's only natural to want to show off their wealth in the most obvious way possible: extra-large objects encrusted with gold and diamonds.

When a person who's used to carrying most of what they own so no one will steal it suddenly has unbelievable amounts of money, old habits die hard. While a lot of the world considers bling to be gaudy, a lot of people find it as irresistible as gigantic speakers.


Gold has always made things happen. While many other metals are more rare, no other metal has ever tapped into the human will so easily or so completely as gold has. From driving nations to destroying native cultures to driving rappers to all but armor themselves in it, gold is the metal that gets things done. Perhaps the only major difference from one era to the next is the way it gets people to move mountains.

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