Egyptian goldsmiths carry out the first melting or fusing of ores in order to separate the metals inside. They use blowpipes made from fire-resistant clay to heat the smelting furnace.
2600 BC – Early gold jewellery
Goldsmiths of ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) craft one of the earliest pieces of gold jewellery, a burial headdress of lapis and carnelian beads with willow leaf-shaped gold pendants.
1223 BC – Creation of Tutankhamun’s funeral mask
Instantly recognised the world over, the funeral mask of Tutankhamun is a triumph of gold craftsmanship from the ancient world.
564 BC – First international gold currency created
King Croesus develops improved gold refining techniques, permitting him to mint the world’s first standardised gold currency. Their uniform gold content allows ‘Croesids’ to become universally recognised and traded with confidence.
1300 – Hallmarking practice established
The world’s first hallmarking system, scrutinising and guaranteeing the quality of precious metal, is established at Goldsmith’s Hall in London – where London’s Assay Office is still located today.
1370 – The Great Bullion Famine begins
During the years 1370-1420, various major mines around Europe become completely exhausted. Mining and production of gold declines sharply throughout the region in a period known as ‘The Great Bullion Famine’.
1717 – UK gold standard commences
Britain moves onto a de facto pure gold standard, as the government links the currency to gold at a fixed rate (establishing a mint price of 77 shillings, 10-and-a-half pennies per ounce of gold).
1848 – California Gold Rush begins
John Marshall discovers gold flakes while building a sawmill near Sacramento, California. The greatest gold rush of all time follows as 40,000 diggers flock to California from around the world.
1885 – South African gold rush begins
While digging up stones to build a house, Australian miner George Harrison finds gold ore on Langlaagte farm near Johannesburg. Miners flock to the region. South Africa will go on to become the source of 40pc of the world’s gold.
Check back for part 2 of “A History of Gold” to read about Gold in the 1900’s, from the adoption of the Gold standard to today’s record breaking highs.