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Stunning images capture beauty of gold

Last updated on: April 2, 2012 12:54 IST

Stunning images capture beauty of gold

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Gold has been known and used by artisans since the Chalcolithic. Gold artifacts in the Balkans appear from the 4th millennium BC, such as those found in the Varna Necropolis, Bulgaria.

Gold artifacts such as the golden hats and the Nebra disk appeared in Central Europe from the 2nd millennium BC Bronze Age.

Let's take a look at the beauty of gold through the help of some amazing images.

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Image: An employee empties a cup of gold granules at the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant 'Oegussa' in Vienna.
Photographs: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

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Stunning images capture beauty of gold

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Egyptian hieroglyphs from as early as 2600 BC describe gold, which king Tushratta of the Mitanni claimed was "more plentiful than dirt" in Egypt.

Egypt and especially Nubia had the resources to make them major gold-producing areas for much of history.

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Image: Melted gold flows out of a smelter at the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant 'Oegussa' in Vienna.
Photographs: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

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Stunning images capture beauty of gold

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The earliest known map is known as the Turin Papyrus Map and shows the plan of a gold mine in Nubia together with indications of the local geology.

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Image: An employee displays a gold tooth at a shop that purchases gold in the Ginza district of Tokyo.
Photographs: Toru Hanai/Reuters

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Stunning images capture beauty of gold

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Because of its historically high value, much of the gold mined throughout history is still in circulation in one form or another.

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Image: An employee inspects a piece of jewellery at a shop that purchases gold in the Ginza district of Tokyo.
Photographs: Toru Hanai/Reuters
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Gold has been widely used throughout the world as a vehicle for monetary exchange, either by issuance and recognition of gold coins or other bare metal quantities, or through gold-convertible paper instruments by establishing gold standards in which the total value of issued money is represented in a store of gold reserves.

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Image: An employee displays gold teeth at a shop that purchases gold in the Ginza district of Tokyo.
Photographs: Toru Hanai/Reuters
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Stunning images capture beauty of gold

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However, production has not grown in relation to the world's economies. Today, gold mining output is declining.

With the sharp growth of economies in the 20th century, and increasing foreign exchange, the world's gold reserves and their trading market have become a small fraction of all markets and fixed exchange rates of currencies to gold were no longer sustained.

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Image: Jewellery is displayed at a shop that buys gold in the Ginza district of Tokyo.
Photographs: Toru Hanai/Reuters
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At the beginning of World War I the warring nations moved to a fractional gold standard, inflating their currencies to finance the war effort.

After World War II gold was replaced by a system of convertible currency following the Bretton Woods system.

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Image: Gold is poured during a tour of Agnico-Eagle's Meadowbank mine near Baker Lake, Nunavut, Canada.
Photographs: Chris Wattie/Reuters

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Gold standards and the direct convertibility of currencies to gold have been abandoned by world governments, being replaced by fiat currency in their stead.

Switzerland was the last country to tie its currency to gold.

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Image: Gold granules are pictured at the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant 'Oegussa' in Vienna.
Photographs: Lisi Niesner/Reuters
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Stunning images capture beauty of gold

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Many holders of gold store it in form of bullion coins or bars as a hedge against inflation or other economic disruptions.

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Image: An employee picks up a gold bar at the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant 'Oegussa' in Vienna.
Photographs: Lisi Niesner/Reuters
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Stunning images capture beauty of gold

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Of all the precious metals, gold is the most popular as an investment. Investors generally buy gold as a hedge or harbor against economic, political. or social fiat currency crises (including investment market declines, burgeoning national debt, currency failure, inflation, war and social unrest).

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Image: An employee arranges gold jewellery in the counter as her arm is reflected in the mirror at a gold shop in Wuhan, Hubei province, China.
Photographs: Stringer/Reuters
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Stunning images capture beauty of gold

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The gold market is subject to speculation as are other markets, especially through the use of futures contracts and derivatives.

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Image: A customer is reflected in the window of a jewellery shop where gold bangles are on display in Istanbul, Turkey.
Photographs: Murad Sezer/Reuters
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The history of the gold standard, the role of gold reserves in central banking, gold's low correlation with other commodity prices, and its pricing in relation to fiat currencies during the late-2000s financial crisis, suggest that gold behaves more like a currency than a commodity.

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Image: A man films a gold-plated Infiniti G37 at a jewelry store in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China.
Photographs: China Daily/Reuters
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Gold has been used throughout history as money and has been a relative standard for currency equivalents specific to economic regions or countries, until recent times.

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Image: An employee arranges gold jewellery at the counter of a gold shop in Hefei, Anhui province, China.
Photographs: Stringer/Reuters
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Since 1919 the most common benchmark for the price of gold has been the London gold fixing, a twice-daily telephone meeting of representatives from five bullion-trading firms of the London bullion market.

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Image: A pre-Columbian gold mask is seen at the Gold Museum in Bogota, Columbia.
Photographs: Fredy Builes/Reuters
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Furthermore, gold is traded continuously throughout the world based on the intra-day spot price, derived from over-the-counter gold-trading markets around the world.

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Image: A Nepalese jewellery store keeper arranges gold jewellery in Kathmandu.
Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters
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Today, like most commodities, the price of gold is driven by supply and demand as well as speculation.

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Image: An employee holds replicas of turtles made of gold during a photo opportunity at a jewellery shop in Seoul.
Photographs: Truth Leem/Reuters
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However unlike most other commodities, saving and disposal plays a larger role in affecting its price than its consumption.

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Image: Hands of a bride are seen during a wedding ceremony in Tripoli.
Photographs: Louafi Larbi/Reuters
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Most of the gold ever mined still exists in accessible form, such as bullion and mass-produced jewellery, with little value over its fine weight - and is thus potentially able to come back onto the gold market for the right price.

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Image: A goldsmith poses with gold bangles in his jewellery shop in Amman's gold market.
Photographs: Ali Jarekji/Reuters
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Given the huge quantity of gold stored above-ground compared to the annual production, the price of gold is mainly affected by changes in sentiment (demand), rather than changes in annual production (supply).

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Image: A shopkeeper counts Thai baht banknotes as he buys gold from a customer in Bangkok's Chinatown.
Photographs: Sukree Sukplang/Reuters
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According to the World Gold Council, annual mine production of gold over the last few years has been close to 2,500 tonnes.

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Image: Gold bars are pictured at the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant 'Oegussa' in Vienna.
Photographs: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

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About 2,000 tonnes goes into jewellery or industrial/dental production, and around 500 tonnes goes to retail investors and exchange traded gold funds.

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Image: A man melts down gold jewellery in Los Angeles, California.
Photographs: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
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Central banks and the International Monetary Fund play an important role in the gold price.

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Image: A woman waits to sell gold at a shop in Hanoi.
Photographs: Nguyen Huy Kham/Reuters

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At the end of 2004 central banks and official organisations held 19 per cent of all above-ground gold as official gold reserves.

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Image: A Nepalese jewelry store keeper arranges gold jewellrey in Kathmandu.
Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters
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Although central banks do not generally announce gold purchases in advance, some, such as Russia, have expressed interest in growing their gold reserves.

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Image: A vendor arranges gold rings on display at a jewellery shop in Shenyang, Liaoning province, China.
Photographs: Sheng Li/Reuters
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It is generally accepted that interest rates are closely related to the price of gold. As interest rates rise the general tendency is for the gold price, which earns no interest, to fall, and as rates dip, for gold price to rise.

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Image: Pure gold artifact shaped as Japan's Mount Fuji by Japanese jewellery maker Ginza Tanaka is displayed during an unveiling in Tokyo.
Photographs: Yuriko Nakao/Reuters
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As a result, gold price can be closely correlated to central banks via the monetary policy decisions made by them related to interest rates.

For example if market signals indicate the possibility of prolonged inflation, central banks may decide to enact policies such as a hike in interest rates that could affect the price of gold in order to quell the inflation.

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Image: The Golden Victoria statue atop of the Siegessaeule (victory column) is pictured on a snowy day in Berlin.
Photographs: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters
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An opposite reaction to this general principle can be seen after the European Central bank raised its interest rate on April 7, 2011, for the first time since 2008.

The price of gold responded with a muted response and then drove higher to hit new highs one day later.

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Image: Melted gold flows out of a smelter into a mould of a one kilogramme bar at a plant in Swiss town of Mendrisio.
Photographs: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
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A similar situation happened in India: In August 2011 when the interest rate were at their highest in two years, the gold prices peaked as well.

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Image: A gold chip is torched at a gold jewellery factory in Meycauayan, Bulacan, north of Manila.
Photographs: Cheryl Ravelo/Reuters
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Jewellery consistently accounts for over two-thirds of annual gold demand. India is the largest consumer in volume terms.

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Image: A model demonstrates the use of Umo Inc's 24-carat gold leaf 'Gold Facial Treatment' in Tokyo.
Photographs: Toru Hanai/Reuters
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The most traditional way of investing in gold is by buying bullion gold bars. In some countries, like Canada, Argentina, Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, these can easily be bought or sold at the major banks.


Image: A salesman helps a customer to try on a jewellery set at a shop in a shopping district in Beirut
Photographs: Cynthia Karam/Reuters

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