Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Gold, is it really worth it?

Often thought of as one of the most valuable commodities. Banks have reserves of gold bars because "people will always need gold!", and during the depths of recession the prices of gold have never been so high. But why? Gold really does not have many useful uses, well not ones that would warrant almost £900 for a single bar of bullion.

Surely our modern society should be past the novelty of "ooh look at the shiny, shiny", shouldn't it? Well it appears that it hasn't, at all. Other than being a rare element that has a pretty colour it is essentially just that, rare and pretty. That is what we have to fall back on should our resources evaporate? To me that is just ridiculous.

In the headquarters of a large corporate bank who is searching for a get out clause if the worst case scenario should happen; "should we invest in future fuels, buy Uranium? Or even crude oil? No we'll buy a shiny metal.". That's a pretty odd situation, rather than something that will ultimately be a necessity in every day life we stick with our primordial views in what we idolise for its sheer appearance. I do understand that the bullion was not bought recently. The fact we're not then converting this into more useful commodities or even investing it, although given the banks track record in that I'd rather risk walking into the tiger enclosure dressed in one of Lady Gaga's recent numbers.

The rarity of gold is one of the only things that I can see that it has going for it to increase its worth. If we took, every single piece of gold that has ever been discovered during the entirety of the Earth's history would only fill about 15,000m3 and putting that into context, around three regulation Olympic sized swimming pools. That is minuscule. Of all the 92 elements this is however nowhere near the scarcest on Earth, the rarest naturally occurring element is Astatine. With only 30 grams of it the Earth's crust!

However, rarity without a purpose is surely not something that should warrant such a high price? Well, apparently it is I guess. The price we set on it, yes we set it. We often overlook the fact that everything is worth only what we put on it. £50,000,000 for a footballer, £1.30 per litre of petrol, £900 per bar of gold! These are just ridiculous. Okay the other two have their uses (well, sort of), but gold does not. We really need to start prioritising how we price items, a worthless shiny piece of metal that is only used for decorative purposes and that's one of the most valuable commodities? Sort it out people.


  1. It’s worth considering the usage of gold for other then cosmetic reasons
    Electronic Industry
    Gold is not affected by air and most reagents and is a very good conductor of heat and electricity. Heat, moisture, oxygen, and most corrosive agents have very little chemical effect on gold. This makes gold an excellent material for electrical switching mechanisms and plug contacts.
    Now I don’t know if other substances can be used instead, but believe me industry would be if a better or cheaper option was available
    But of course the usage for cosmetic “shiny” reasons does increase its worth

  2. That is worth considering, but it's gargantuan, over-priced value has meant those purposes have to deal with trace amounts of Gold or look elsewhere for materials with the same characteristics, and those are pretty common characteristics for metals; but yes it is a valid point.