There are three effective ways of winning gold. You can find it, you can trade for it, or you can steal it. All of these are either hard or risky in some degree. There is another method which has attracted people: the use of alchemy to transmute base metals into gold. Over the years there has been a great deal of talk and perhaps even some hard work to this end, but if any alchemist ever succeeded in "making gold", there is no historical record of any success.The Grape that can with Logic absolute
The Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects confute:
The sovereign Alchemist that in a trice
Life's leaden metal into Gold transmute.Edward Fitzgerald, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, (5th edition) #59.
Their game might have been easier than digging or stealing gold, but it could also carry risks. After he died, there were those who maintained that Alexander Seton had really succeeded in making gold, which probably just means he was cleverer at sleight-of-hand than his audience, though his history suggests that he wasn't all that clever.… these throw into a crucible a small piece of gold or silver hidden in a coal, and after mixing therewith fluxes which have the power of extracting it, pretend to be making gold from orpiment, or silver from tin and like substances.— Agricola, De Re Metallica, preface xxix