Since it's the most satisfying line of The Twelve Days Of Christmas, can we just skip the four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and partridge in a pear tree, and go straight for the five gold rings? Or rather five gold, ring-like things? Here, to get you lords and ladies-a-leaping, are a few gold – or goldish – items. Of course, due to restrictions, you probably can't visit any of them right now. Not unless you happen to be the mysterious owner of the gold nugget, or local to the golden turd. Let’s hope the New Year rings a few changes there.

Scotland's largest gold nugget

Every now and again it seems that someone finds the biggest gold nugget in some river in Scotland. The last one was discovered in a mystery fluvial location in May last year, weighed 121.3g, was 22 carat, and was estimated to be worth £80,00. In fact, rather than one nugget, it was two pieces, which formed a doughnut shape – which can pretty much be said to be a kind of gold ring – and gained the name the Reunion Nugget.

Prior to this the largest find had been what’s known as the Douglas Nugget, weighing 85.7g. Discovered four years ago, it remained a secret till 2018, when the man who found it, whilst remaining anonymous, as those in the gold-hunting community are wont to do, revealed its existence, and that it had been discovered in a mystery location by a process known as “sniping” – essentially lying face down in a river with a snorkel on.

The Honours of Scotland

Or, in other words, the Scottish crown jewels, the regalia that was used between for the coronation of Scottish monarchs from Mary, Queen of Scots, at just nine months old, in 1543 until Charles II in 1651, and which are housed in the Crown Room of Edinburgh Castle. It could be said, in some way, that a crown, which is gold and covered with gems and pearls is a ring shape, with a few extra arch features. It is Britain's oldest regalia and it comes burnished with history and intrigue. At one point the Honours were hidden to stop them falling into English hands, then, following the Treaty of Union in 1707, disappeared for a century. It was Walter Scott who finally found them, in a little strong room at Edinburgh Castle locked in an oak chest, covered with linen cloths.

The “golden turd”

The common nickname for the shiny Edinburgh hotel which is nearing completion and due to open in 2021, is the not-entirely-flattering “golden turd". The St James Quarter Hotel even has a joke twitter account dedicated to it under the handle @TurdHotel, with a bio that describes it as a "golden pile of pure s***e". Some say it is shaped a little like a shiny Mr Whippy, others speak of its innovative “orange peel” design. Is it gold-coloured? Is it bronze? Is it an architectural masterpiece? Are there turds that colour? Who cares? The hotel gets our gold star for top “goldish thing”.

Cononish Goldmine

Scotland’s first commercial goldmine finally opened this year – a project that has been 35 years in the development, and seen different prospectors come and go. There were numerous challenges along the way, and investors, but the project was finally brought to fruition through the investment of businessman Nat Le Roux, who pumped in millions of his own money to keep it alive. Located at the edge of Loch Lomond national park, near Tyndrum, and run by ScotGold Resources it is the only working goldmine in the UK. Gold processed on site, will carry a Scottish hallmark – a stag’s head in a triangle, stamped by an assay office in Edinburgh and marketed as Scottish gold. You can be sure there will be a few rings made from it.

Bronze age hair rings

The National Museum of Scotland has a selection of intriguing penannular gold rings, dated to the Bronze age, which have been found around Scotland. There have been numerous theories about what these were for, but the most popular is that they were hair rings – worn as a way of showing off the status of their high-ranking owner. 26 have been found around Scotland – including, for instance, one, with tiger-stripe markings found by Professor Mike Parker Pearson and his team at a remarkable Bronze Age settlement at Cladh Hallan on South Uist. The bling of its time!

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