Symbol of wealth and prosperity to the large majority of cultures and civilizations throughout the world history, gold has always been given extreme importance by individuals, states and organizations, becoming a subject for their fascination.
Ever since ancient Egypt, gold has been considered a very precious metal, of divine nature, associated with the sun. While bearing no actual economic value until later times gold was traded only in barter by the Egyptians. The pharaoh had monopoly over the mines and used it for mortuary masks (Tutankhamen's solid gold mask being by far the most famous), statuettes of gods and jewelry.
Ancient Rome on the other hand used gold for trading; they had an Imperial treasury of gold coins. Gold mines belonged to the state and were located in Spain and Wales. Gold was used to finance the empire, to pay salaries and purchase goods from other parts of the world. Jewelry was worn only by very rich Romans.
Ancient Irish people and tribes from Central America made golden jewelry for the purpose of giving them as offerings to their respective Gods (by throwing the objects into rivers or lakes). In the case of African cultures, gold was used at large extent, mostly for the creation of objects worn by tribe leaders. Special workshops were created, making objects of elaborate nature, used for religious and ceremonial purposes. The continuous search for new deposits of gold because of the depletion of existing ones was the driving force behind the discovery of the American continent. This would be the place of the largest Gold rush, in California, around 1848, when 40000 diggers have come in search of the precious metal.
The gold standard was established by all countries of the world (China excepted) between 1870 and 1900, linking the currencies to the value of gold. Subsequently, this has been canceled by the US President Roosevelt who suspends the convertibility of US Dollar into gold. After the World War II, the Breton Woods conference sets the foundation for the post-war monetary system, creating the Gold Exchange Standard, primarily with reference to the US dollar. Buying gold remains to this day an important investment.