It is one of the questions to which finding the answer is, unusually, difficult. Actually, there are no records which point out accurately as to who discovered gold first. What we do know is that gold has been used by civilization across the world for centuries, owing to its beauty and has had its place cemented as a metal of great value since times immemorial.
Discovery of Gold Element
It is said that the oldest relics of gold artifacts date back to as far as the 4th Millennium BC, quite a few years before recorded history. One of the oldest artifacts made from gold were found in the Balkan regions.
Gold has had ornamental value for centuries. Gold has very often been looked upon as a metal of great value and beauty. All of which made it a luxury item then, a status which it still enjoys today. Over the years, gold has held several respectable positions indeed! Gold ornaments have been used, literally, for ages. So many kings around the world have used gold to mark their grandeur and have had their statues created in this beautiful metal. Gold has also been gifted to kings as a mark of respect to a king. The royalty of the time would adorn themselves in gold jewelry much of which was wrought from gold. Gold has also been used in the mummy tombs of several Egyptian kings. Gold would also be offered as a gift to Gods in order to appease them. In India, and several other countries, a good amount of importance is placed on gold. Artisans have used gold brocade liberally to adorn the castles of the kings. Gold, in the form of gold coins has also been commonly used as a currency over the years.
Discovery of Gold in California
What happened in California to lead to the Gold Rush? It is said that James W. Marshall, a lumber mill worker in Coloma, California was the place where gold was 'discovered' in such a large quantity in the United States.
The fact that gold, always a metal to die for, exists on the west coast of the United States led people from all over the world to flock to California in search of gold. Suddenly people not only from across the United States, but from Asia, Latin America and Europe, who could latch on to some boat were finding their way to California to grab a bit of the plentiful gold available to them. And yes, a few early birds did get lucky!
While the California Gold Rush is the most famous and well documented, great gold rushes have also taken place in other parts of the world such as Colorado, Australia, Otago and Klondike.
It is really hard to say given that the metal has been in circulation and has enjoyed ornamental, industrial, electronic, chemical, medical and economic uses over time. So I guess this question continues to remain unanswered and will stay so!