By Joao Peixe
It’s currency. It’s luxury. It’s even dessert. But those are only the base uses of gold. This is the stuff of gods, big and small. Since the dawn of civilization it has held sway over spirit and soul and what the ancient Egyptians knew then, everyone still knows now: Gold is King, no matter what.
While new technology has broadened the ways in which we can use gold, from gold tablets that allow for luxurious excrement to dessert toppings, many of the wildest uses of gold have been around since the days of Cleopatra.
“The allure of gold will always captivate,” says Scott Moore, CEO of EuroSun Mining, owner of Europe’s biggest in-development gold mine. “Currencies come and go, but gold has always enjoyed a relationship with the divine, and often that extends to the bizarre.”
Surprisingly, while gold has been a symbol of wealth, divinity and elite status since the beginning of time, it was also used in simple dentistry as early as 630 B.C. when Etruscans used it to make crowns and create bridgework.
Even Egyptian beauty Cleopatra is said to have used a gold mask every night to keep her skin looking young, and while this may or may not be true, modern-day dermatologists hawk the idea widely to sell “golden” treatments for as much as $6,000.
And it wasn’t just Cleopatra who was fascinated by gold… Roman emperors such as Trajan reshaped Rome, using gold from the very same mining district where Scott Moore’s EuroSun Mining is operating right now. Moore noted, ”The Romans didn’t have a fraction of the tools or technological know-how we have nowadays, and still managed to extract tons of gold from this legendary location.”
Since the days of Cleopatra, humankind’s desire to use gold in ever more bizarre ways seems to have grown stronger by the day, with food often the primary target of this creativity. Today, gold appears to have conquered cuisine, with everything from gold-covered ice cream, to gold tacos, Indian tandoori and even 24-carat-covered gold steaks.
Dessert is the obvious choice for gold lovers, and nothing better epitomizes the wealthy penchant for excess than the Golden Opulence Sundae. With its $1,000 price tag, it’s the most expensive ice cream sundae on the planet, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
It’s served up in the Serendipity 3 restaurant in New York. Prospective consumers have to order at least 48 hours in advance. When it arrives, it includes three scoops of Tahitian vanilla ice cream covered in 23-karat gold leaf, as well as almonds, caviar and an orchid forged from sugar that is said to take eight hours to make alone. It’s all served in a $350 baccarat crystal goblet with an 18-karat gold spoon.
But the ice cream sundae is just for the mildly wealthy: Serendipity serves up something much more outrageous for those who can’t find anything else to do with their wealth. The $25,000 Frozen Haute Chocolate is almost the most expensive dessert in the world. It’s made from a blend of 28 cocoas from across the world and blended with five grams of edible 23-karat gold, topped off with whipped cream. On the side, comes a La Madeline au Truffle from Knipschildt Chocolatier. It’s to be eaten with a golden spoon garnished with diamonds.
The golden dessert price tag prize, though, goes to the Golden Phoenix, a cupcake made from edible gold in Abu Dhabi, UAE, for $28,000 in 2012. Since then, the cupcake designed by Bloomsbury baker Shafeena Yusuff Ali, who donated the first $28,000 to charity, has become a regular feature on the menu, going for a much more modest ~$1,000 each.
EuroSun Mining’s Scott Moore was quick to point out that these extravagant deserts aren’t exactly bringing investors value for money. With the current cost of gold at over $1,400 per ounce, the original Golden Phoenix cupcake would be worth the equivalent of half a kilogram of this precious metal.
Wine-flavored Gold Lollipops are where the not-so-wealthy can play this game, too.
Containing genuine flakes of 24-carat gold, these lollipops sell for around $36 each. Marketers have caught on to the food gold rush, though, and now a variety of gold lollipops have invaded the market at different prices and with different grades and amounts of gold. For the original, the wine makes the flavor because – despite the obsession with creating food out of gold, the precious metal doesn’t have any taste.
To wash it all down, try some Dom Pérignon 1995 White Gold Jeroboam. With a price tag of $40,000, this limited edition champagne is so expensive because of the white gold bottle.
Goldschlager, a popular schnapps, is a cheaper way to booze with divinity, containing a blend of Smirnoff No. 21, a hint of cinnamon and tiny fragments of edible 23-carat gold foil.
And no good drink is complete without a good smoke.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Douglas, and Sylvester Stallone have all smoked this now-famous cigar packed with premium Nicaraguan long leaves from Jalapa wrapped in 25 leaves of 24 karat Italian gold. The cigars sell for $295 a pop.
What Goes In, Must Come Out … Divinely
That brings us to …
One of the most precious features of the $15-million Majesty 135 yacht is the gold-plated toilet seats, which involved placing three layers of 21-karat gold on the porcelain toilets. Each one of the cubicles cost more than $15,000 to create by hand.
And, even more to the point: the gold pill.
In recent years, 24K gold pills filled with gold leaf turn everything that comes out into … glittering gold. The pills sell for about $425 each.
Beyond Food: From Cleaning to Space Launches, Gold Is Everywhere
While anyone who can afford a gold-plated vacuum cleaner isn’t likely to need to vacuum themselves, it’s always nice to have your maid work in luxury. That’s made possible with the 24-carat gold-plated vacuum cleaner. The manufacturer made only 100 of these, at a cost of $1.5 million each. That was in 2012, and we haven’t heard from them since.
While new, gold-covered food items keep popping up faster than we can keep track of them, the most recent bizarre use of gold in the non-edible segment was courtesy of SpaceX in December last year. It doesn’t get much more bizarre than launching a 24-karat-gold canopic jar in the shape of Robert Henry Lawrence Jr., NASA’s first African-American astronaut.
For EuroSun Mining’s CEO, Scott Moore, it’s this undying allure that makes gold-mining a forever endeavor.
“All of these bizarre uses of gold tell us one thing: gold has a link to humanity with which no other currency can compete. It’s man’s way of getting in touch with the mystical, the immortal.”
And it is hard to argue with Scott, away from the geopolitical and economic headlines that seem to dominate the sector, it is the gold covered cakes and toilet breaks that will always have us enamored with this precious metal.
As humanity continues to find new and interesting uses for gold, we’ve put together a list of 5 companies that truly stand head and shoulders above the rest:
Seabridge Gold Inc. (NYSE:SA) (TSX:SEA)
Seabridge is an ambitious young company taking the industry by storm. It has a unique strategy of acquiring promising properties while precious metals prices are low, expanding through exploration, and then putting them up for grabs as prices head upward again.
The company owns four core assets in Canada; the KSM project, which is one of the world’s largest underdeveloped projects measured by reserves, Courageous Lake, a historically renowned property, and Iskut, a product of a recent acquisition by Seabridge.
Recently, Seabridge closed a major extension deal to continue expansion at its KSM project. CEO Rudi Fronk stated: “We are pleased that our EA Certificate has been renewed until 2024 under the same terms and conditions, reaffirming the Government of British Columbia’s support for KSM and the robustness of the original 2014 EA.”
Kinross Gold Corporation (NYSE:KGC) (TSX:K)
Kinross Gold Corporation is relatively new on the scene, founded in the early 90s, but it certainly isn’t lacking drive or experience. In 2015, the company received the highest ranking for of any Canadian miner in Maclean’s magazine’s annual assessment of socially responsible companies.
While Kinross posted a significant loss in the fourth quarter of 2018, the company is making strong moves to turn around its earnings, including the hiring of a new CFO, Andrea S. Freeborough.
“Andrea’s successful track record at Kinross and throughout her career, including accounting, international finance, M&A, and deep management experience, will be an excellent addition to our leadership team,” said Mr. Rollinson. “We have great talent at Kinross and succession planning is a key aspect of retaining that talent for the future success of our Company.”
Eldorado Gold Corp. (NYSE:EGO) (ELD.TO)
This Canadian mid-cap miner has assets in Europe and Brazil and has managed to cut cost per ounce significantly in recent years. Though its share price isn’t as high as it once was, Eldorado is well positioned to make significant advancements in the near-term.
In 2018, Eldorado produced over 349,000 ounces of gold, well above its previous expectations, and is set to boost production even further in 2019. Additionally, Eldorado is planning increased cash flow and revenue growth this year.
Eldorado’s President and CEO, George Burns, stated: “As a result of the team’s hard work in 2018, we are well positioned to grow annual gold production to over 500,000 ounces in 2020. We expect this will allow us to generate significant free cash flow and provide us with the opportunity to consider debt retirement later this year. ”
Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. (NYSE:WPM) (TSX:WPM)
Wheaton is a company with its hands in operations all around the world. As one of the largest ‘streaming’ companies on the planet, Wheaton has agreements with 19 operating mines and 9 projects still in development. Its unique business model allows it to leverage price increases in the precious metals sector, as well as provide a quality dividend yield for its investors.
Recently, Wheaton sealed a deal with Hudbay Minerals Inc. relating to its Rosemont project. For an initial payment of $230 million, Wheaton is entitled to 100 percent of payable gold and silver at a price of $450 per ounce and $3.90 per ounce respectively.
Randy Smallwood, Wheaton’s President and Chief Executive Officer explained, “With their most recent successful construction of the Constancia mine in Peru, the Hudbay team has proven themselves to be strong and responsible mine developers, and we are excited about the same team moving this project into production. Rosemont is an ideal fit for Wheaton’s portfolio of high-quality assets, and when it is in production, should add well over fifty thousand gold equivalent ounces to our already growing production profile.”
Centerra Gold Inc. (OTCMKTS:CAGDF) (TSX:CG)
Centerra Gold is a Canada-based gold miner with flagship assets, the Mount Milligan Mine and the Kumtor Mine which are located in Canada and the Kyrgyz Republic respectively. It also owns the Öksüt Gold Mine in Turkey, making it the single-largest North American gold company operating in Asia, with over 22 years of experience in the region.
Centerra’s biggest selling points, however, are its strong balance sheets. For 2018, the company reported over $100 million in net earnings, generating over $217 million from cash operations, exceeding many analyst’s expectations.
Scott Perry, President and Chief Executive Officer of Centerra stated, “As a result of the strong fourth quarter operating performance at both operations, the Company exceeded its overall 2018 production and cost guidance producing 729,556 ounces of gold at an all-in sustaining cost on a by-product basis of $754 per ounce sold, beating the low-end of our all-in-sustaining cost guidance for the year.
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