Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny metal and the most malleable and ductile metal known. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a transition metal and a group 11 element. With exception of the noble gases, gold is the least reactive chemical element known. It has been a valuable and highly sought-after precious metal for coinage, jewelry, and other arts since long before the beginning of recorded history.
Gold resists attacks by individual acids, but it can be dissolved by the aqua regia, so named because it dissolves gold. Gold also dissolves in alkaline solutions of cyanide, which have been used in mining. Gold dissolves in mercury, forming amalgam alloys. Gold is insoluble in nitric acid, which dissolves silver and base metals, a property that has long been used to confirm the presence of gold in items.
The ISO 4217 currency code of gold is XAU.