Natural Electrum "wires" on quartz, historic specimen from the old Smuggler-Union Mine, Telluride, Colorado, USA.
The Pactolus river, from which Lydia obtained electrum for its early coinage.
Early 6th century BCE Lydian electrum coin (one-third stater denomination), one of the oldest known coins
Cup with mythological scenes, a sphinx frieze and the representation of a king vanquishing his enemies. Electrum, Cypro-Archaic I (8th–7th centuries BCE). From Idalion, Cyprus.
Brooch with a griffin protome. Electrum, c. 625–600 BCE. From the necropolis of Kameiros, Rhodes.
A mummified male head covered in electrum, dating from the Ptolemaic dynasty of Ancient Egypt (ca. 2nd century BCE).

Electrum is a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver, with trace amounts of copper and other metals. It has also been produced artificially, and is often known as green gold. The ancient Greeks called it 'gold' or 'white gold', as opposed to 'refined gold'. Its colour ranges from pale to bright yellow, depending on the proportions of gold and silver.

The gold content of naturally occurring electrum in modern Western Anatolia ranges from 70% to 90%, in contrast to the 45–55% of gold in electrum used in ancient Lydian coinage of the same geographical area. This suggests that one reason for the invention of coinage in that area was to increase the profits from seigniorage by issuing currency with a lower gold content than the commonly circulating metal. (See also debasement.)

Electrum was used as early as the third millennium BCE in Old Kingdom of Egypt, sometimes as an exterior coating to the pyramidions atop ancient Egyptian pyramids and obelisks. It was also used in the making of ancient drinking vessels. The first metal coins ever made were of electrum and date back to the end of the 7th century or the beginning of the 6th century BCE. For several decades, the medals awarded with the Nobel Prize have been made of gold-plated green gold.


The name "electrum" is the Latinized form of the Greek word ἤλεκτρον (èlektron), mentioned in the Odyssey referring to a metallic substance consisting of gold alloyed with silver. The same word was also used for the substance amber, likely because of the pale yellow colour of certain varieties. It is from amber's electrostatic properties that the modern English words "electron" and "electricity" are derived. Electrum was often referred to as "white gold" in ancient times, but could be more accurately described as "pale gold", as it is usually pale yellow or yellowish-white in colour. The modern use of the term white gold usually concerns gold alloyed with any one or a combination of nickel, silver, platinum and palladium to produce a silver-coloured gold.

Other Languages
العربية: إلكتروم
беларуская: Электрум
català: Electre
čeština: Elektrum
Esperanto: Elektrumo
فارسی: الکتروم
français: Électrum
Gaeilge: Leictream
한국어: 호박금
hrvatski: Elektrum
italiano: Elettro
עברית: אלקטרום
ქართული: ელექტრუმი
қазақша: Электрум
lietuvių: Elektrumas
magyar: Elektrum
Nederlands: Elektrum
norsk: Elektrum
norsk nynorsk: Gyldisk sølv
occitan: Electrum
polski: Elektrum
português: Eletro
română: Electrum
русский: Электрум
српски / srpski: Elektrum
suomi: Elektrum
svenska: Elektrum
Türkçe: Elektrum
українська: Електрум
Tiếng Việt: Electrum
粵語: 琥珀金
中文: 琥珀金