|Scrap for recycling.
Only a small fraction of the paper and cardboard in the world gets recycled. Some recycling operators don't even want it because it can be more expensive to handle than it's worth.
A larger fraction of aluminum gets recycled, because it's more expensive, and easier to reprocess into new things. But still you see a lot of aluminum cans going in the garbage.
Not so with gold. It's so expensive, and so easy to recycle, that virtually none of it goes to waste. If you die with it in your teeth, chances are you won't go to your grave with it. Old circuit boards with gold-plated contacts are sold for real money to people who strip and recycle the gold.
And of course jewelers never, ever, throw away anything! The smallest scraps are carefully collected and either reused to repair another piece, or sent off to refiners who separate out any alloying elements (typically silver, copper, or platinum) and return the pure gold to circulation. I don't know the exact figure, probably no one does, but I would wager that a very large fraction of the total amount of gold that has ever been mined in the history of the world is still in circulation today, sitting in a bank vault, hanging on a drug dealer's neck, or waiting patiently in a jeweler's workshop for its time to come into the light again.
I traded a fraction of a kilogram bar of indium for this pile of gold: It was probably about an even trade, considering the sky high price of indium at the time.
Source: Ian Brown
Contributor: Ian Brown
Acquired: 11 April, 2006
Text Updated: 17 June, 2006