Electrum: A Unique Silver & Gold Alloy

Before the widely accepted use of silver and gold as a form or trade and currency there was electrum. Electrum (from the Greek ήλεκτρου for “amber,” in allusion to its color), a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver with trace amounts of copper and other metals, possesses silver in concentrations just higher than twenty percent and its color is best described as a pale amber, though this varies depending on the metallic composition. Although electrum occurs naturally, it can be produced artificially.

From Wikipedia:

The gold content of naturally occurring electrum in modern Western Anatolia ranges from 70% to 90%, in contrast to the 45–55% of electrum used in ancient Lydian coinage of the same geographical area. This suggests that one reason for the invention of coinage in that area was to create a situation in which a partly fiduciary means of exchange and storage of wealth could be imposed by a governing power on a population.

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