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Gold, Diamond and Platinum

We rely on gold, diamond and platinum every day – you are using them right now as you read this on your computer screen. Gold bars and coins are the popular image of this precious metal, but it has many practical uses.

Why are these precious metals so special and so costly?

We know there’s lots of gold, diamonds and platinum in banks, we’ve seen pictures of expensive gold, diamonds and platinum jewelry. But there are many ways we use and rely on each of these metals and precious mineral every day.

Gold and platinum are very good conductors of electricity and heat

Gold and Platinum can be alloyed (mixed) with other metals to produce new materials

Gold and Platinum are malleable – they are easily shaped, and very ductile – they can be stretched out into very thin wires

Gold and Platinum do not chip, flake or corrode

Gold and Platinum can be recycled

In your home, gold, copper and silver are used in electronic circuits. It is likely that your television and your computer have gold and copper circuits in them, as well as your PlayStation too. Don’t bother pulling them apart though. The amount will be small, probably in wires thinner than your hair or in very small printed circuits.

Stereo systems sometimes use gold-plated interconnect cables. The gold provides a better contact, and so a better sound. Battery currents in your car and other vehicles rely on copper. The button batteries used in digital watches contain silver. Similar batteries power a large range of devices.

Gold is used by dentists to make crowns for teeth. Gold, platinum, and diamonds used in hospitals too. Burn creams contain gold leaf is used to treat some types of ulcers, and surgical lasers also use gold.

Need glasses? Photochromatic lenses – those are the ones which go darker when the sun gets brighter – contain gold. Gold, diamonds and platinum are in many places in your everyday life – often where you least expect them.

Who would have thought that at the very top of the Auckland Sky Tower there is a gold-plated ball? It’s there so that if the tower gets struck by lightning, the electricity will strike the ball and be conducted safely to the ground.