Gold nuggets are not like crystals, which form when molten minerals cool or when they precipitate from fluids moving through cracks and fissures in the Earth's crust. Instead, gold nuggets, whose impure composition typically contains 10 to 20 percent silver or copper, are shaped by what are known as hypogene processes, meaning they form deep beneath the Earth's surface at high pressure. Thus, what we see when we admire a gold nugget is a weathered shape, its fractured surface usually smooth and rounded, with pits and even holes showing where softer materials that were once nestled against the precious metal have eroded away.

While most gold nuggets in circulation today are no bigger than your thumb and no wider than a quarter, some notable gold nuggets are on the scale of fair-sized boulders, weighing as much as 150 pounds. Australia seems to be especially fertile ground for some of the world's largest gold nuggets, the biggest of which is known as The Welcome Stranger, which was discovered in 1869 in the southeastern state of Victoria. Measuring almost two feet across at its widest point and weighing more than 158 pounds, the prize was found only an inch or so below the surface, the roots of a tree holding it in place. A nugget named The Welcome, which weighed almost as much and tested out as 99 percent pure, had been found in the same state just 11 years earlier, only it was secreted 180 feet under ground.

Though most gold used in jewelry is melted and then formed into rings, bracelets, pendants, and earrings, sometimes small gold nuggets are left in their natural state, their irregular forms producing unique shapes that even an experienced jeweler would be hard-pressed to imitate. Often these pieces were made and marketed during some of the many gold rushes around the world. In the United States, strikes in California in 1849 and in Alaska in 1898 prompted jewelers to create souvenir pieces, often pairing a gold-miner's pick or shovel with a small nugget. Most expensive were gold nuggets encased in polished quartz, since hard-rock mining was the most expensive way of mining gold. By the time the Alaska gold rush had passed its peak, native Eskimos were routinely carving walrus ivory into good-luck figurines, which were often adorned with a small gold nugget.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Legendary Coins and Currency

Legendary Coins and Currency

This online exhibition from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is a great way to get an overview… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

One (1) Huge Natural Beautiful 6.064 Grams Gold NuggetGold Nuggets 15.602 Grams (1/2 Troy Ounce+) Alaska .5016 Oz T Natural Placer #6Gold Nugget (1) Alaska Placer Natural 6.053 Grams .1946 Ozt 40mile District GoldGold Nugget (1) Alaska Placer Natural 5.335 Grams .1715 Ozt 40mile District GoldOne (1) Huge Natural Beautiful 5.347 Grams Gold NuggetGold Nuggets (2) 2.279 Grams Natural Alaska Placer Ak .0733 Ozt Ganes Creek GoldOne (1) Huge Natural Beautiful 5.189 Grams Gold Nugget~64.75g Gold In Quartz Specimen, Mother Lode Region, Mariposa Co., California~Gold Nuggets, Pickers & Flakes - 1.8 Grams (a4511)Gold Nugget (1) Alaska Placer Natural 5.934 Grams .1909 Ozt 40mile District GoldOne Of A Kind Huge Extremely Rare Crystallized Natural 3.407 Grams Gold Nugget4 Grams Alaska Gold Dust Nuggets Natural Placer GoldGold Nugget (1) Alaska Placer Natural 1.501 Grams .0483 Ozt 40mile District Gold~10.89g Gold In Quartz Specimens, Mother Lode Region, Mariposa Co., California~Gold Nuggets (9.5 Gm Of Mostly Large Nuggets) Plus Gold In QuartzGold Nugget (1) Alaska Placer 1.29 Grams .0415 T Oz Ophir District Ganes GoldGold Nuggets 15.682 Grams (1/2 Troy Ounce+) Alaska .5042 Oz T Natural Placer #6Australian Natural Gold Nugget 7.7 Grams With PendantOne (1) Huge Natural Beautiful 6.965 Grams Gold Nugget.4.8 Grams Placer Gold Nuggets And Flakes-$99nrGold Nuggets (2) 2.028 Grams Natural Alaska Placer Ak .0652 Ozt Ganes Creek Gold~4.45g Gold In Quartz Specimen, Mother Lode Region, Mariposa Co., California~Gold Nuggets (2) 1.441 Grams Natural Alaska Placer Ak .0463 Ozt Ganes Creek GoldGold Nugget Genuine Huge Alaskan Weighs 31.37 Gms Over 1 Troy Ounce Look!One (1) Huge Natural Beautiful 6.112 Grams Gold NuggetGold Nuggets (3) Natural Alaska Placer 2.805 Grams Ak .0902 Ozt Ganes Creek Gold~3.93g Gold In Quartz Specimen, Mother Lode Region, Mariposa Co., California~22k Ok Little Squaw Creek Gold 30 Nuggets~5.22g Gold In Quartz Specimen, Mother Lode Region, Mariposa Co., California~Gold Nugget (1) Alaska Placer .905 Grams .0291 T Oz Ophir District Ganes GoldGold Nuggets (2) 2.259 Grams Natural Alaska Placer Ak .0726 Ozt Ganes Creek GoldGold Nuggets Fines Natural Placer Fine Alaska 8.032 Grams Ak .2582 Oz T6.8 Grams Gold Nuggets And Flakes-$99nrGold Nuggets 7.83 Grams (1/4 Troy Ounce+) Alaska .2518 Oz T Natural Placer #8Big 3.5 Oz Goldfield Nv Native Desert 22k Gold In Quartz Ore Nugget No Scrap ; )Yukon Gold Nuggets 4.00 Grams +12 (209)Gold Nuggets (7) 4.025 Grams .1294 Ozt Ak Natural Alaska Placer Ganes Creek GoldGold Nuggets Fines 15.569 Grams Natural Placer Fine Alaska Ak .5006 Toz GoldkingNatural Placer Gold Nuggets Chunky 3.3 Grams 7pcs. California Gold Perfect!! Nr~34.71g Gold In Quartz Specimen, Mother Lode Region, Mariposa Co., California~One (1) Huge Natural Beautiful 4.801 Grams Gold NuggetGold Nuggets (2) Alaska Placer 1.979 Grams .0636 Ozt 40mile Dist Napoleon GoldGold Nuggets 2.015 Grams Alaska .0648 Oz T Natural Placer Alaska #18 Gold KingOne (1) Very Rare Crystallized Natural 1.381 Grams Gold NuggetGold Nugget (1) Alaska Placer 1.5 Grams .0482 T Oz Ophir District Ganes GoldGold Nugget (1) Alaska Placer 1.388 Grams .0446 T Oz Ophir District Ganes Gold22k Of Little Squaw Creek Gold 25 NuggetsGold Nuggets 5.164 Grams Alaska .166 Oz T Natural Placer Ak #20 Gold King Cr.Gold Nuggets 20.156 Grams Alaska .648 Oz T Natural Placer 40 Mile District #8Gold Nuggets 15.69 Grams (1/2 Ozt+) Alaska .504 Oz T Natural Placer #8 GanesGold Nuggets 15.85 Grams Alaska .5096 Oz T Natural Placer Alaska #14 Ganes CreekGold Nuggets (5) Natural Placer Alaska 4.416 Grams Ak .142 Ozt Ganes Creek GoldVial Of Nuggets 2.0 Gram (179)Gold Nugget (1) Alaska Placer 1.006 Grams .0323 T Oz Ophir District Ganes GoldHuge22pc.lot~7gold Banknotes/u.s&world.coins/3silver Bars/fossil/charm+necklaces22pc.lot~7gold Banknotes/u.s&world.coins/3silver Bars/fossil/charm+2 NecklacesGold Nugget (1) Alaska Placer .67 Grams .0215 T Oz Ophir District Ganes GoldGold Nugget (1) Alaska Placer .867 Grams .0279 T Oz Ophir District Ganes GoldGold Nuggets 10.698 Grams (1/3+ T Ounce) Alaska .3439 Ozt Placer #6 Ganes GoldGold Nuggets Fines 5.046 Grams Natural Placer Alaska Ak .1622 Ozt Gold King Cr.