The middle-aged adage that we are made from stardust, made popular by Carl Sagan back in the 1970s, pops up in my thoughts now and then.
I'm looking at my wedding ring right now, feeling the weight of this bit of gold and using it as a mental peephole back in time, to before our solar system even existed. Though most of the chemical elements that make up the Earth and the solar system at large have similar long lineage, coming from the mixture of gases in the interstellar cloud that the sun and planets condensed from, the atoms of gold have a special distinction. These atoms, as well as other atomic nuclei heavier than the element iron, could only have been forged in the core of a super massive star at the end of its life.
That was a long winded way of saying, "Cool! And I get to wear that stuff around my finger!"
Fast-rewinding a bit, about 13.7 billion years to when the universe began with a Big Bang, the first, and for a while only, chemical elements to form out of the seething, expanding ball of energy that was our early universe were hydrogen and helium—and relatively small amounts of lithium and beryllium. Though we're still working out what exactly energy and matter are, we've known for some time now that they are interchangeable: matter can be converted into energy and from energy can come matter -- subatomic particles, like protons, neutrons, electrons, and the like.
So the early universe was a vast expanding ball of super-hot, hot hydrogen and helium gas. What next? Still no gold to be found anywhere, even where you find it.