Gold. Nuggets of gold photographed on the periodic table of the elements. Gold is the 79th element of the periodic table, and has a relative atomic mass of 196.97. It has been known since prehistoric times, as it appears in nature as a free metal; either in veins in quartz or as nuggets in alluvial gravels. Its main use is in monetary systems and jewellery, due to its relative rarity, attractive appearance and lack of tarnishing. Gold is also used in the electronics industry as a conductor. It has no known biological role, although compounds of gold are used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.