Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and atomic number 79. It is a dense, soft, malleable and ductile metal with a bright yellow color and luster, the properties of which remain without tarnishing when exposed to air or water. Chemically, gold is a transition metal and a group 11 element. It is one of the least reactive chemical elements, and is solid under standard conditions. The metal therefore occurs often in free elemental (native) form, as nuggets or grains, in rocks, in veins and in alluvial deposits. Less commonly, it occurs in minerals as gold compounds, such as with tellurium as calaverite, sylvanite, or krennerite.
Gold resists attacks by individual acids, but it can be dissolved by aqua regia (nitro-hydrochloric acid), so named because it dissolves gold. Gold also dissolves in alkaline solutions of cyanide, which have been used in mining. It dissolves in mercury, forming amalgam alloys; it is insoluble in nitric acid, which dissolves silver and base metals, a property that has long been used to confirm the presence of gold in items, giving rise to the term acid test.