Gold is washed up
Alluvial gold is recovered from rivers and mountain streams for the next 1,000 years. Electrum, an amalgam of gold and silver, is commonly found.
Leaves and alloys
Artisans in Egypt use gold’s malleability to fashion gold leaves, and combine it with other metals to form alloys.
Early gold jewellery
Goldsmiths in ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) craft one of the earliest pieces of gold jewellery, a burial headdress of lapis and carnelian beads with willow leaf-shaped gold pendants
Pioneers of the Americas
The earliest known gold jewellery from the Americas was made in Peru. A necklace from a burial site near Lake Titicaca is thought to be more than 4,000 years old.
In Egypt’s New Kingdom (1559-1085 BC) the goldsmiths' art reaches its peak. Kings and queens employ goldsmiths to make jewellery to demonstrate rulers’ rank; and as ornaments for their eventual burial.
A golden send-off
Tutankhamun is buried in a gold coffin weighing 110kg (3,536 troy ounces). His funerary mask of beaten and burnished gold is the finest ever found.
Advances in jewellery making
Artisans develop the lost-wax jewellery casting technique. The process allows for improved hardness and colour variation, which in turn broadens the market for gold products.
Jewellers at Etruria
The Etruscans make distinctive gold jewellery that features fine, granulated textures. Soon they adapt their technology to gold wires that secure loose teeth, and construct hollow vessels for holding perfume.
Birth of the gold coin
Improved refining at Sardis enables King Croesus to issue the first gold coin - the stater - initially 10.7 grams (0.33 troy ounces) and later reduced to 8.04 grams (0.25 troy ounces).
The golden Roman Empire
Jewellery is made across the Roman Empire and is worn in ostentatious styles as a symbol of wealth. Rings, often with coins as bezels, are used as tokens of betrothal.
Buddha in gold
Buddhism spreads across India, Afghanistan and China in the centuries following the Buddha’s birth. The earliest known representation of the Buddha is a gold reliquary found at Bimaran, dating from 60 BC.
The Buddha on gold leaves
Buddhism establishes itself in China under the western Han period (206 BC-220 AD). During the next three centuries gold leaf is used extensively to adorn shrines and images of the Buddha.
Complete technical mastery
By the 12th century, goldsmiths still work primarily for the Church, leading to devotional pieces such as Nicholas of Verdun's enamelled gold work for the altar at the church of Klostemeuberg.
Hallmarking practice established
The world's first hallmarking system, scrutinising and guaranteeing the quality of precious metal, is established at Goldsmiths’ Hall in London - where London's Assay Office is still located today.
Napoleon’s Roman recall
The coronation of Napoleon in France ushers in a period of lavish jewellery-making. Ladies of the court wear Roman-style olive or laurel wreaths in gold as tiaras, creating a fashion throughout Europe.
Mechanisation transforms popular jewellery-making, with the invention of chain machines in the 1850s. Birmingham, in England, is at the centre of this new era of cheap, popular jewellery.
First Faberge Easter egg crafted
Carl Faberge makes his first gold Imperial Easter Egg for Tsar Alexander III. Named The Hen Egg, it was commissioned as a gift from the Tsar to his wife, the Empress Maria Fedorovna.
The gold fill patented
The process of rolled gold, first patented in 1817, becomes widely used in the 20th century to make jewellery, watch cases, cigarette cases and high quality pens and pencils.
Solid gold Olympic medals
The first four Olympiads of the 20th century are the only Games to have awarded solid gold medals to winners: Paris 1900, St Louis 1904, London 1908 and Stockholm 1912.
Fight and flight
The Communist overthrow of the Tsar ends the career of Carl Faberge and St Petersburg's flourishing jewellery industry. Many Russian emigres take their jewellery as they flee west, though much is melted down.
Photo caption: Decorative ceramic easter egg for jewellery (Faberge egg), Copyright: Igor Grochev
War sinks jewellery
The jewellery industry throughout western Europe is severely disrupted by the First World War and its aftermath of high inflation and unemployment in previously wealthy nations.
Photo caption: Empty jewellery box
The 1933 Double Eagle is minted in the US. It will later survive a gold meltdown to become the most expensive coin in the world. Recovered from an Egyptian king by undercover US agents, it is sold for US$7.2 million at Sotheby’s in 2002.
Photo caption: 1933 Double Eagle coin
License a must
As it cracks down on hoarding of gold, the US government insists that all jewellery fabricators must obtain a license from the Treasury before they can buy gold.
Photo caption: Department of US Treasury
Jewellery design, fabrication and sales are disrupted severely by the Second World War. Gold sales to the jewellery industry are strictly limited, and even wedding rings are highly taxed.