Because gold is the most universal store of value across all times, nations and cultures.
But that does not mean that some societies don’t prefer other forms of portable wealth: silver, diamonds, cattle (which are self-portable).
Until fairly recent times, most people did not use banks. In our great-grandparents’ day, you didn’t just become a depositor at a bank. You had to have an introduction. Most working people were not welcome in banks.
Times change, but the habit of relying on gold, diamonds or silver as an emergency “savings account” remains strong.
In every community, the pawnbroker is the place where that emergency stash can be converted into legal tender to deal with bills.
(In the next episode of Pawn 101: Introduction to Pawnbroking, we will tell the story of the Provident, a famous pawnshop that did not accept gold, and why.)