Gold has been highly valued in many societies throughout the ages. In keeping with this it has often had a strongly positive symbolic meaning closely connected to the values held in the highest esteem in the society in question. Gold may symbolize power, strength, wealth, warmth, happiness, love, hope, optimism, intelligence, justice, balance, perfection, summer, harvest and the sun.
Great human achievements are frequently rewarded with gold, in the form of gold medals, golden trophies and other decorations. Winners of athletic events and other graded competitions are usually awarded a gold medal (e.g., the Olympic Games) Many awards such as the Nobel Prize are made from gold as well. Other award statues and prizes are depicted in gold or are gold plated (such as the Academy Awards, the Golden Globe Awards the Emmy Awards, the Palme d'Or, and the British Academy Film Awards).
Aristotle in his ethics used gold symbolism when referring to what is now commonly known as the "golden mean." Similarly Gold is associated with perfect or divine principles, such as in the case of Phi, which is sometimes called the "golden ratio."
Gold represents great value. If we value others, we treat them with the most valued rule, the "golden rule." A company may give it's most valued customers "gold cards" or make them "gold members". We value moments of peace and therefore we say: "silence is golden." In Greek mythology there was the the "golden fleece".
Gold is further associated with the wisdom of aging and fruition. The fiftieth wedding anniversary is golden. Our precious latter years are sometimes considered golden. The height of a civilization is referred to as a "golden age".
In Christianity Gold has sometimes been associated with the extremities of utmost evil and the greatest sanctity. In the Book of Exodus, the Golden Calf is a symbol of idolatry. In the Book of Genesis, Abraham was said to be rich in gold and silver, and Moses was instructed to cover the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant with pure gold. In Christian art the halos of Christ, Mary and the Christian saints are golden.
Medieval kings were inaugurated under the signs of sacred oil and a golden crown, the latter symbolizing the eternal shining light of heaven and thus a Christian king's divinely inspired authority. Wedding rings have long been made of gold. It is long-lasting and unaffected by the passage of time and may aid in the ring symbolism of eternal vows before god and/or the sun and moon and the perfection the marriage signifies. In Orthodox Christianity, the wedded couple is adorned with a golden crown during the ceremony, an amalgamation of symbolic rites.
In popular culture gold holds many connotations but is most generally connected to terms such as good or great, such as in the phrases; "has a heart of gold", "that's golden!", "golden moment", "then you're golden!" and "golden boy". Gold also still holds it's place as symbol of wealth and through that, in many societies, success.