While the word "gold" is often synonymous with luxury and we've been conditioned to consider it the ultimate gift, the truth is far more ugly. For a small taste, consider this from the EPA:
"About 20% of the world's gold is produced by the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector. This sector is also responsible for the largest releases of mercury to the environment of any sector globally. A major source of air pollution from mercury, artisanal and small-scale gold mining releases approximately 400 metric tons of airborne elemental mercury each year."
Yeah, this is yet another example of conventional wisdom being anything but wisdom.
All That Glitters is Not Gold