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Understanding the U.S. Gold Market

Gold, silver, and the six platinum-group metals are known as noble or precious metals. The term ‘noble’ refers to gold’s extreme reluctance to combine chemically with nonmetallic elements, notably oxygen. The term ‘precious’ refers to its rarity, durability, and beauty that until the 19th century made gold by far the most expensive of metals.

 Of 14 known isotopes, gold is found in terrestrial rocks as the only stable isotope, atomic number 79 and atomic weight 197, located in Group 1b of the periodic table of elements along with copper and silver. The other 13 isotopes have half-lives ranging from a few seconds to a few days. Gold crystallizes in a face-centered cubic lattice, melts at 1,064.18° C, and with a specific gravity of 19.3, is among the densest of metals. It is also the most malleable of metals, is soft and highly ductile, has a bright pleasing color, is highly reflective to infrared radiation and to most of the visible spectrum, alloys readily with common metals, is readily joined by fusion bonding (soldering and brazing), and has high electrical and thermal conductivity. Chemically inert towards most naturally occurring substances, gold does not tarnish or corrode in use.

 The name ‘gold’ as well as the word ‘yellow’ derives from the Sanskrit word meaning to shine; the chemical symbol for gold, Au, comes from the Latin ‘aurum,’ which means glowing dawn.

 Gold has been treasured since ancient times for its beauty and permanence. Most of the gold that is fabricated today goes into the manufacture of jewelry. However, because of its superior electrical conductivity, resistance to corrosion, and other desirable physical and chemical properties, gold emerged in the late 20th century as an essential industrial metal. Gold performs critical functions in computers, communications equipment, spacecraft, jet aircraft engines, and a host of other products. Although gold is important to industry and the arts, it also retains a unique status among all commodities as a long-term store of value. Until recent times, it was considered essentially a monetary metal, and most of the bullion produced each year went into the vaults of government treasuries or central banks.

 This report on the gold industry covers the basics of this glittering industry, ranging from the production/consumption of gold, the historical importance of gold, the different uses of gold, and much more. A detailed analysis of the regulatory environment of the industry is included in the report, along with comprehensive coverage of the three major players in the industry. A brief overview of the global gold industry is also provided to help the reader to analyze the U.S. gold industry from a global perspective.

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