Throughout the ages, gold has been used as a means of monetary exchange. However, in recent years, estimates of the amount of gold in the world vary widely. Most of the gold extracted from the earth remains in existence, but how much is there and why do experts differ on that amount?

GFMS, a leading independent precious metals consultancy, estimates over 12,000 tonnes of gold were extracted prior to the year 1492. However, other researchers believe that amount to be a gross overestimate. For example, James Turk, the founder of Gold Money, estimates that amount to be closer to 300 tonnes. Furthermore, Turk’s analyses put the world’s current reserves at 10% less than the widely respected estimates of GFMS.

These discrepancies might seem minor, but they do affect investor sentiment. Other analysts believe the work of GFMS and Turk are underestimates and the world’s reserve of gold is much greater. Some nations, such as China, are notoriously reticent about reporting their extraction amounts. We may never know the total sum of gold in the world. In the United States, mining continues and there remains 50,000+ tonnes in the ground.

Gold has a rich and mysterious history and the volume of gold in the world has increased over time. In the past, gold didn’t get “thrown away” and was recycled for future use. It is possible that your gold watch or wedding band contains gold mined a thousand years ago! However, as the cost of re-using gold goes up and the demand for certain gold-based items declines, gold may in the future be more of a consumable item that it was in the past. The mystery of gold continues.

Source: BBC News