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    

Natural Gold Nugget Australia Victoria 95.66.gramsSmooth 2.41 Gram Alaska Gold Nugget ~ Natural Shiny Placer Piece~ NuggetsAustralian Natural Gold Nugget Victorian 235.9 Grams(1) One Huge Alaskan Placer Gold Nugget Ak 47.32 Grams 1.521 T Oz Ophir District2.46 Gram Natural Gold Nugget Out Of Alaska Placer15.796 Grams (1/2 Troy Oz+) Gold Nuggets Alaskan .507 Oz T Natural Placer #14-201.64 Gram Natural Gold Nugget Out Of Alaska Placer~5 Awesome Alaska Gold Nuggets ~ Natural Solid 3.45 Gram Placer Nugget Selection(1) One Alaskan Placer Gold Nugget Alaska 10.11 Grams .325 T Oz. Ophir District(1) One Alaskan Placer Gold Nugget Alaska 9.75 Grams .313 T Oz. Ophir DistrictGold Nugget Charm Pendant Gold Picker Natural 1.8 Grams #7511/2 Ounce Gold Nuggets, 240 Grains, 29 Nuggets, Raw Jewelry Grade Placer Gold!1.46 Gram Natural Gold Nugget Out Of Alaska PlacerGold Dust 3.1 G Yukon Bullion 1/10 Troy OunceNatural California Placer Gold Nuggets 2.3 Grams Assorted Size Pieces Fine Gold(1) One Alaskan Placer Gold Nugget Alaska 2.223 Grams .0715 T Oz. Ophir District(2) Two Gold Nuggets Natural Alaskan Placer Ak 1.609 Grams .0517 Ozt Ganes CreekNugget, 22kt Gold - From California River, Solid And Pretty, 4 GramsCrystalline Gold In Quartz Specimen -gold Bullion,gold Nugget 11.5 Grams Tasmanian Gold Nugget Minelab Metal Detector Prospecting Find 1.385 Grams N/r1Raw Gold Nugget Weighing 4.5 Grams - Mounted On Antique Gold Filled Pin W/ CaseGold Bullion 3.1 G 24k Scrap Tested/verified1.86 Gram Natural Gold Nugget Out Of Alaska Placer3.6 Grams Gold Nuggets Placer Gold Pickers Natural #701(1) One Alaskan Placer Gold Nugget Alaska 1.41 Grams .0453 T Oz. Ophir DistrictGold Nugget 2.16 G Australian Source Bullion Placer(1) One Alaskan Placer Gold Nugget Alaska 2.476 Grams .0796 T Oz. Ophir District2.2511 Gram Alaska Natural Gold Nugget - (#3388)1.4617 Gram Alaska Natural Gold Nugget - (#3333)California Gold Nugget Pendant 2.4 Grams Jewelry Nuggets Ca Au Assay .8655 AuCalifornian Gold, One (1) Nugget, 6.2 Grns = .402 Gram, N-4145,21.02 Grams Gold Nuggets Alaskan .676 Oz T Natural Placer Ganes Creek #8 Mesh(1) One Alaskan Placer Gold Nugget Alaska 5.792 Grams .1862 T Oz. Ophir District1/4 Ozt Shiny Gold Nugget Assortment ! 7.8 Gram Natural Alaska Placer NuggetsGold Nuggets 6.69 G 6 Big Ones Klondike Alaska Source3.5 Grams Alaska Yukon Gold Nugget Natural 23k Nice1.4617 Gram Alaska Natural Gold Nugget - (#3333)(1) One Alaskan Placer Gold Nugget Alaska 1.18 Grams .0379 T Oz. Ophir DistrictFour Natural Gold Nugget/pickers 0.8 Grams (4014)Natural Gold Nugget Oregon .92 Grams Retired Jeweler Selling1857 Pcgs California Gold Rush .5 Grams S.s. Cental America Gold Nugget #8221Rare ! Chunky Alaska Gold Nugget ~ Shiny Solid 0.78 Gram Placer Piece ~ Nuggets4 Natural Wire Nuggets ~ 0.61 Gram Solid Alaska Placer Gold Nugget Selection ~(7) Seven Gold Nuggets 4.571 Grams .147 Oz T Ak Natural Alaska Placer Ophir7.523 Grams (1/4 Troy Ounce-) Gold Nuggets Alaskan .2419 Oz T Natural Placer #8-1/4 Oz Natural Alaska Gold Flakes / Dust - Beautiful Alaskan Fine Gold 7.8 GrmsAlaska Large Gold Nugget 9 Grams Not Scrap Gold1.0893 Gram Alaska Natural Gold Nuggets - (#3341)1.1439 Gram Alaska Natural Gold Nugget - (#3290)(1) One Alaskan Placer Gold Nugget Alaska 7.078 Grams .2276 T Oz Ophir District3 Grams Gold Nuggets Placer Pickers.Australian Natural Gold Nugget Victorian 25.06 Grams Australischen Goldnugget(1) One Alaskan Placer Gold Nugget Alaska 1.375 Grams .0442 T Oz. Ophir DistrictAlaska Gold Nuggets 1.022 Gram High Karat Placer Nice One Similkameen River Gold, One (1) Gram Size #2 ( 30+) Sm Nuggets/flakes , N-38430.9857 Gram Alaska Natural Gold Nugget - (#3335)3 Grams Gold Nuggets Placer Pickers.Eureka Gold Sands World Famous Paydirt Concentrates Gold And Platinum Nuggets!1.1686 Gram Alaska Natural Gold Nugget - (#3391)Gold Panning Paydirt Gold Mining One Pound Rich Sluicebox Concentrates Sluiceboy