Everything you see around you, your bed, your walls, the ring on your finger, the plastic on the device you are using to read this blog... it's all made of elementary particles that were made billions of years ago and, probably, millions of light years away.
How did this happen?
It begins about 13 billion years ago. In the beginning, there was hydrogen and gravity... that's about it. Space. Hydrogen. Gravity.
Over a few hundred million years, the hydrogen began to collect into clouds and, eventually, when the clouds are large enough; they collapse into what is called a protostar. In a sun like ours, this process takes about 50 million years. At this point the sun enters its "mature" phase during which the heat generated by the compressed atoms causes a fusion reaction resulting in the production of helium and the release of a photon of energy... and that's what makes the stars shine. This phase lasts around 10 billion years in stars like our sun, but varies enormously.
The basic rule is that the greater the mass of the star, the higher the temperature and, therefore, the more energy it gives off, the more material is fused and the shorter its life. Also the fusion reaction produces progressively heavier materials: helium, iron, etc. Iron is, in fact, the heaviest element that can be produced in this way. If the star is sufficiently massive, however, it will continue to collapse and then explode. This is what we commonly refer to as a "super nova." The speed of this collapse is truly staggering. Stars will shrink from thousands of miles across to a few dozen within the span of a few seconds - an incredibly short crecendo to a build up of billions of years.
This process produces an enormous amount of heat - 100 billion degrees or more. And it is during this brief time that all the heavier elements in the universe are created. All the gold in all the jewelry. All the copper in every penny. All the silver in every trophy. All of it is formed during these brief, violent, explosions...
So. Next time you stop and look at something of beauty consider that it was created billions of years ago in the long life and violent death of a faraway star. I think that's quite amazing.