Gold Price Timeline

How the price of gold has changed from 1970 to 2017

and the events that influenced it


The price of gold has risen steadily over the past five decades, from an average of $36 in 1970 to $1250 in 2017. While gold has cemented its position as a long-term investment vehicle, it’s had its share of drops in value. Periods of rallies and dips have coincided with tumultuous political and economic developments - as investor demand for gold as a safe haven rises amid woes over the world economy, and weakens when things are going well.

What can we learn from the past to predict the future?

The price of gold is quoted in a standardized measurement of one troy ounce.

1 troy ounce = 31.1 grams

1970 – The price of an ounce of gold trades at an average of $36.

August 1971 – US president Richard Nixon takes the dollar off the gold standard, no longer converting the dollar to gold at a fixed value of $35 an ounce and enabling gold to be traded at fluctuating market prices.

August 1972 – The US devalues the dollar to $38 an ounce of gold.

December 1974 – U.S. citizens allowed to hold gold bullion and coins for the first time in 40 years.

January 1980 – Gold hits a record high of $850 an ounce, as investors flock to the precious metal amid high inflation due to strong oil prices, the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the impact from the Iranian revolution.

1982-88 – Fluctuating world currency exchange rates, increasing concern about U.S. trade and budget deficits and banking problems, and Third World debt factor into the fluctuations of gold between $300 and $490.

1989-1991 – Period is marred by conflict in the Arabic Gulf and the breaking up of the Soviet Union, erosion of gold's role as a safe haven for investors, and generally weak economic growth worldwide.

1992-96 – Gold price remains relatively stable.

August 1999 – Gold falls to a low of $251.70 as central banks begin to reduce their gold reserves and mining companies sell gold in forward markets to protect against falling prices.

October 1999 – Gold reaches a two-year high at $338 following an agreement to limit gold sales by 15 European central banks.

February 2003 – Gold soars on safe-haven buying in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

December 2003 – Gold breaks $400, reaching levels last traded in 1988. Investors increasingly buy gold as risk insurance for portfolios.

November 2005 – Spot gold breaks $500 for the first time since December 1987, when it hit $502.97.

12 May 2006 – Gold prices peak at $730 an ounce with investors pouring money into commodities on a weak dollar, firm oil prices and political tensions over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

14 June 2006 – Gold plummets to $543 from its 26-year peak after investors and speculators exit their commodity positions.

2 January 2008 – Spot gold breaks above $850.

13 March 2008 – The benchmark gold contract trades over $1,000 for the first time in the US futures market.

17 March 2008 – Spot gold hits an all-time high of $1,030.80 an ounce.

17 September 2008 – Spot gold jumps by nearly $90 an ounce - a record one-day gain, as investors seek safety amid turmoil in stock markets.

20 February 2009 – Gold rises back above $1,000 an ounce to a peak of $1,005.40 during the financial crisis.

1 December 2009 – Gold climbs above $1,200 an ounce for the first time as the dollar drops.

11 May 2010 – Gold reaches fresh record high above $1,230 an ounce as fears over the contagion of debt problems in the eurozone fuel safe-haven buying.

17 September 2010 – Gold hits a fresh record high of above $1,282 an ounce, driven by a weaker dollar and economic uncertainty.

September 2011 – The Eurozone debt crisis leads investors to plough money into gold, raising the price to $1,923 an ounce.

2012-15 – The price of gold steadily falls as fears of a full-blown banking crisis recede after 2011, culminating in a low of $1094 in August, 2015.

June 2016 – Brexit and its unknown consequences spark a gold rush. Gold hits a two-year high at $1358.

June 2017 – The price of gold hits a year-high of $1,294 before dropping back down to mid-$1200’s.

Prices referenced are not adjusted for inflation.

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About the author

The author is an expert in the field of multi-asset trading.