On paper, gold is a simple chemical element known by the symbol Au: a dense, easily shaped metal.
But held in the hands, its raw beauty and obvious value have made it a favored means of preserving wealth since the very beginning of human civilization.
The first gold coins first appeared around 600 B.C., though silver was preferred for trading purposes until at least the 1200s.
The gold we mine from the ground today most likely came to Earth via asteroid showers billions of years ago, so the amount of gold available above and below ground is surprisingly low. Picture a cube of metal that easily fits in a few Olympic-size swimming pools. This scarcity has contributed to its enduring value over the centuries.
Today, gold is a universally-recognized means for investors to preserve wealth and protect against financial calamity. Inflation, currency fluctuation, market collapse, societal unrest… these are the realities of modern life that gold can help alleviate.