From ancient Egypt to the California Gold Rush, no metal is as intertwined in our shared human history as gold. While gold has adorned everything from ships to buildings, its history has long been synonymous with money. A quick look back in time: Before World War II, the gold standard was a system where all countries in the world fixed the value of their currencies to a specific amount of gold. After the war ended, the Bretton Woods system established that the price of gold was fixed to the U.S. dollar. President Richard Nixon ended the Bretton Woods system in 1971, establishing gold’s price at $35 per ounce—and since then gold has been freely traded, with prices going up and down more often than the sun. In 1980, it soared to $850 per ounce. Jump forward to this decade and gold prices reached $1,900 per ounce in 2011, only to level off to between $1,200 and $1,400 today.
While gold is experiencing a healthy renaissance, the majority of the metal’s sales are roaring back to yellow gold. Customers seem to be nostalgic for the ’80s and ’90s, explains Maroof, when people were stacking and layering piles of gold chains, long and short. At the same time, consumers are increasingly buying pieces of gold for its value, taking a cue from countries like India where gold jewelry sales have always been considered investments. “People are wanting a piece of gold that lasts forever—as opposed to buying fashion jewelry that looks like something they’d throw out in a few years,” Maroof says.