From the Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare gave us a vision that Led Zeppelin later crafted into song. Not all that glitters is gold, but what makes gold special?
Part of gold’s appeal is its longevity; it stays brilliant seemingly forever. Gold does not tarnish. Gold sits in the periodic table of elements between platinum and mercury, neither of which tarnish. But platinum looks like silver, mercury too, and try to make a ring from mercury! Tarnish is a kinder term for rust, resulting from oxygen’s greed for electrons. Many metals have an electron or two to share and oxygen from the air snaps them up, the reaction forming a surface oxide on the metal, of that metal. Rust for iron, tarnish for silver. Copper, bronze and brass get a patina. Gold simply does not have an electron to spare, therefore, no oxidation. It stays shiny for years, decades, eons.