Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Perth Mint

Today we Today we had an excursion for my Australian Studies class at the Perth Mint. So far it was my favorite excursion for many reasons. One, they had a lot of jewelry there, which actually surprised me a lot but after thinking about it made sense. They do a lot with gold and what is good to do with gold? Make it into jewelry of course! Two, it was the most visual thing we went to that I haven’t ever seen anything similar to before. Three, I learned the most at this excursion than I have anywhere else.

            The best thing about the Mint was that we got to see a gold melting!! It was something I will definitely never forget! They had to heat the gold up to 1300 degrees Celsuis, even though it melts at 1064 degrees, because it cools rapidly and they need it in a liquid form for a while to be able to do anything with it. After about 20 seconds of taking the pot of gold (I forget what the pot was made of!) out of the furnace it dropped 100 degrees. After taking it out of the furnace and talking to us about how he has to work quickly, which he definitely wasn’t moving quickly, or the gold will solidfy, he poured it into a holder to make it into a block form. Watching him pout the liquid gold into that holder is something I will hopefully never forget. I’ve heard the term liquid gold before and I always think of it as a thick liquid, something similar to honey but I was very mistaken. This gold was beautiful. That’s really the best word to describe it. It was a very bright yellow, it was actually a neon yellow and it almost hurt my eyes to took at. And it’s definitely not thick; it looked like water jumping around in the holder. If it were clear and not neon yellow it would have been easy to mistake it for water. As soon as I saw him tip to holder back to stop pouring into the block holder, the gold moved around in the holder and the word Water popped into my head. After getting it all into the block form it started to cool and fast. As gold cools it turns from a neon yellow into a vibrant, neon orange and we got to watch this transformation take place within a matter of a minute. It was the coolest thing! I never would have thought it would cool that fast. I mean I serious saw it turn from a watery substance to something that was thrown out of its container onto the table in less than two minutes. Using special gloves he held the block up to us to see. It was a complete solid! No dripping off the sides, it didn’t bend or give at all, it was a complete solid. Using his gloves he then ran it back and forth across the face of the block and fire shot out of the block wherever his finger was. Seriously! And he did it repeatedly and his glove never caught on fire (probably because they were fire proof) but it was spectacular. I don’t know why that happens or how it can possibly happen but it was one of the coolest, unique things I’ve ever seen in my life. He then threw it into a huge tube of water, which by the sounds it was making, made the tube boil and when it pulled it out, the block had transformed into the metallic looking gold you are used to seeing. He also touched it with his bare hands because by this point it was cool enough to touch. Definitely one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen in my life!

            Also at the Mint I found out that is you took my weight in gold and went to turn it in for money I would be …. Priceless. Haha sorry I just had to say that because I thought it was funny. I would really be worth approximately $2,690,000! That’s a lot of money. 

            One of the rooms in the building had an actual gold cube, block (the real name escapes me at the moment) bill maybe?, that you could touch. Well of course it was enclosed and had steel bars around it so no one could steal it but it was still neat to touch. I tried to pick it up because it looked like you could but I couldn’t do it so I thought that my eyes were playing tricks on me and that the steel bars were really holding it down on top. Well after I touched it a man touched it and then picked it up and commented on how heavy it was! I was like What?! It can’t be that heavy it’s just a block, it was a little bit smaller than a water bottle without the top drinking part. So I just thought I was being wimpy and not really trying to first time so I tried again and no I wasn’t being wimpy, it was HEAVY. I’m pretty sure I almost pulled a muscle in my arm but I picked it up for a couple of seconds :) That little block weighed 13 kilos (if I’m not mistaken), was worth $220,000 AUS dollars and was 13 times denser than water. The density had to be why it was so heavy!  

            At this Mint they have gold that is 99.9% pure gold. The purest gold you can find in the world. You know in the stores when they say something is 24 karat gold, that usually means it’s about 99.5% pure gold. I thought that was an interesting fact. And when you see big chunks of gold together and not just little bits at a time, it really shines. I mean it’s beautiful. It really looked purely gold not rusty gold. I couldn’t do anything but stare.

             In their gift shop they had a lot of jewelry. I definitely wasn’t expecting that from a Mint place but there were bundles of it, and it was definitely expensive. Probably some of the most expensive jewelry I’ve ever seen in my life but by far the prettiest. I’ve seriously never seen more exquisite jewelry in my life and even though I haven’t been around that long to see tons of it yet, I think I know when I’m looking at some beautiful stuff. It made all of the other jewelry stores look average; even Tiffany’s didn’t seem as great. They had everything too. Engagement rings, pearls, crystals, opals, you name it. To say the least - I was in heaven.

            Ok last thing about the Mint and then I’m promise I’m done talking about it. The Olympic games were in Sydney in 2000, well of course they made some of the medals at this Mint! The bronze medals were made of a combination of things, the silver were obviously all silver, but the gold wasn’t all gold. In order for all the medals they make to be pure gold, they wouldn’t have any gold left basically. So they gave silver medals a gold coat and those were the gold medals. Sounds like the gold medal winners get jipped huh? Oh well they said, had to do it. Haha

            Just so this whole post isn’t completely about the Mint I will throw in another Laura story. The other night Laura was explaining to me that her teacher wouldn’t give the students the answers to an assignment they did that day, but she normally does. When I asked why, she explained that the teacher knows they are giving their answers to the students in the classes later in the week. In other words, they got caught cheating. Laura gave me the lecture that their teacher gave them about how it makes her grade look worse because the other students have all the right answers and so their grades are better. She was pretty concerned/confused about why the teacher decided not to give them the right answers anymore.

All I could say was, “Well ya Laura, you don’t want them to have a better grade then you because you gave them the answers. And it’s called cheating. That’s not allowed.”

Her answer, “Ya but in China we do this all the time.”

Me, “What?!!”

Laura, “Ya, students give each other answers all the time and the teachers don’t care. It’s common practice in China.”

Me, stunned into silence with my mouth hanging open.

Laura, “We do it all the time. At school when we take tests if you look over at other students paper, it’s ok. The teacher won’t say anything.”

Me, “You can just look off of someone else’s test and you won’t get in trouble?!”

Laura, “Yes, but not the whole test. If you look over maybe just a couple of times not for the whole thing.”

I knew China was different, but damn!

She then explained how big of a pain it was that you had to reference every resource you use in a paper because they apparently don’t do that either. Whenever they write papers and essays or whatnot for class, they never have to reference like we do. So she was very annoyed that she had to reference things here haha. Welcome to the world Laura.


That’s all I got for now. Love you all <3


  1. Wow, I have never been to a minting facility. Sounds facinating. We will definately have to go.

    I have to say that I am shocked about the referencing in China! Laura is a hoot...lol.

  2. Hey, so I loved your description soo much of the perth mint place that I looked it up on youtube and got to see everything that you talked about...even the jewelry.