Is Gold Magnetic?
How Does a Magnet Work?
Magnetism can be defined as a physical force between the electric charges from two different materials. That force can be either attractive or repulsive. But to understand how it works, we must delve deeper into the matter (pun intended).
Every material, substance, liquid, object, or even the air, is composed of atoms, consisting of mainly three different particles: protons, neutrons, and electrons. The protons and neutrons are the core of the atom, its nucleus. Surrounding that center, always spinning, are the electrons.
Different elements have different numbers of electrons. In the ones that have an even number of that electric particle, such as cloth or wood, the electrons spin in opposite directions. That negates any magnetism. On the other hand, in materials that have an odd number of electrons, these particles spin in the same direction. When an unpaired electron from one material aligns with an unpaired electron from another, that pulls them together.
Conversely, in other materials where all electrons are paired, the realignment of the electrons when they come within range of a magnetic field forms a negative susceptibility. In other terms, these materials actually push away from a magnet.
Most elements of the universe can get classified as diamagnetic, paramagnetic or ferromagnetic.
Diamagnetic materials such as pure gold and silver have a weak, negative susceptibility to magnetic fields. Diamagnetic elements like pure silver get slightly repelled by magnetic fields, and the content does not retain the magnetic properties when the external field gets taken away. In diamagnetic materials, all electrons are paired, so there is no net magnetic field or force per atom within. Diamagnetism arises from the realignment of the electron paths under the influence of external magnetic fields. Most periodic table elements, including copper and silver, are classified as diamagnetic.
Paramagnetic materials have small, positive susceptibility to magnetic fields (having a slight attraction to magnets). Although a magnetic field slightly attracts these materials, the content does not retain the magnetic properties when the external magnetic field gets removed, meaning it cannot become a permanent magnet. Paramagnetic properties result from some unpaired electrons and the realignment of the electron paths caused by the external magnetic field. Paramagnetic materials include palladium, platinum, rhodium, rhenium, ruthenium, magnesium, molybdenum, lithium, and tantalum.
Ferromagnetic materials have significant, positive susceptibilities to external magnetic fields. They show a strong attraction to magnetic fields and can retain magnetic properties after the external magnetic field has gotten removed. Ferromagnetic materials have some unpaired electrons, so their atoms have a net magnetic attraction. They get their strong magnetic properties due to the presence of magnetic domains. When a magnetizing force is applied, the areas become aligned to produce a strong magnetic field within the part. Iron, nickel, and cobalt are examples of ferromagnetic materials.
Non-magnetic metals are the ones that do not retain ferromagnetic or paramagnetic characteristics. Most common metals we can find daily, such as aluminum, lead, copper, brass, silver, tungsten, and titanium, are not magnetic metals. They cannot be made into magnets and will not be attracted to magnetic fields.
Is Gold Magnetic?
Magnet and gold coins
Gold is a diamagnetic metal, which means it is not attracted to a magnet. In fact, it has a slightly repellent property against magnets.
Gold atoms have an odd number of electrons (79), which means they will always contain one unpaired electron. Nevertheless, due to its extreme density, those electrons bond with each other and cannot be aligned to an unpaired one from a magnetic material.
Gold has an atomic weight of 196.96657 u and a density of 19.3 g/cm³, being one of the densest metals there is. It is also the explanation for other of gold’s unique properties, i.e. its high melting point, low reactivity, and electrical conductivity.