Gold belongs to the group of precious metals, along with silver, platinum, palladium and a number of others. They are rare metallic chemical elements of high economic value, shiny, hard, strong with high melting points.
Gold bars are called gold bullion bars or ingots. Gold bars range in weight from one gram to 24 kilograms.
The world consumption of new gold produced is about 50% in jewelry, 40% in investments, and 10% in industry.
Among all precious metals, gold is the most popular as an investment.
Throughout history, the yellow metal was used as money and has been a relative standard for currency equivalents specific to economic regions or countries, until recent times.
Since 1919, the most common benchmark for the price of gold has been the London gold fixing, a twice-daily telephone meeting of representatives from five bullion-trading firms of the London bullion market. Furthermore, gold is traded continuously throughout the world based on the intra-day spot price, derived from over-the-counter gold-trading markets around the world.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has established a standard, ISO 4217, that defines three-letter codes and three digit numbers for currencies including gold bullion. Gold bullion's code is XAU and number is 959. By definition gold bullion, XAU, is expressed in US dollars per one Troy ounce of gold.
The price of gold is driven by supply and demand, including demand for speculation. At the same time, central banks and International Monetary Fund play a huge role in metal's price. At the end of 2004 central banks and official organizations held 19 percent of all above-ground gold as official gold reserves.