Gold is a shiny yellow metal. People value gold for its beauty as well as its usefulness. It is a soft metal and one of the easiest metals to shape. It does not rust or change color. People have used gold for jewelry and money for thousands of years.
Gold is one of the most lustrous (shiny) metals. Its chemical symbol, Au, comes from aurum, the Latin word for shining dawn. Gold can be beaten or pressed into various shapes without breaking. It can also be drawn into fine wires without breaking.
Gold is valuable because large amounts of it are hard to find in any one place on Earth. Tiny amounts are present in almost all rocks and soil—even in seawater. Most of the world's gold comes from mines in South Africa.
Gold has many uses. Gold conducts (carries) electric current better than all other metals except silver and copper. Gold also conducts heat well. In addition, gold reflects infrared (heat) rays better than any other metal. Parts for many electrical and electronic products are made with gold. These products include computers, radios, and televisions.