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California State Mineral

24 caret gold rings  Photo by Craig Kaplan / Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution/share alike).

Official State Mineral of California

California designated gold as the official state mineral in 1965. All State Minerals

The gold rush that followed the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in 1848 is an integral part of the history and culture of California. California's population exploded from 14,000 to 250,000 people in just four years after gold was discovered (prospectors are still panning for gold in California's streams).

Gold is an element with the chemical symbol Au (from the Latin word aurum - "shining dawn"). Probably the oldest precious metal known to man, its beauty and scarcity has resulted in bitter conflict over the course of history by humans trying to gain or protect it.

Gold has physical and chemical properties that make it precious for more important things than jewelry, coins, or even art. Gold is stable (rarely combines with other elements to corrode), very dense but still extremely malleable, and only silver conducts electricity better than gold. This makes gold a critical resource in dentistry, medicine, and scientific and electronic instruments.