Curling Wave, Massachusetts

Photograph by Michael Melford

Genuine or re-created, wrought by nature or man-made, gold dazzles the eye. Flora and fauna flaunt it. Sunlight paints the world with it. And the malleable metal—and its shine—has been capturing the human imagination for thousands of years.

Here, sunlight casts a gold filament onto a wave rolling toward Nantucket Island. The popular summer destination is located 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts.

(For more pictures of the amazing colors of our world, buy the National Geographic book Life in Color.)