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    

Gold Nugget Alaskan Placer Natural Huge 29.89 Grams .9608 T Oz. Napoleon CreekCalifornia Speciman Gold Nugget 27+ Gram,with Loop For Chain. Stunning! Natural Gold Nugget 15.64 Gram From AlaskaHuge 13.5 Gram Natural Gold NuggetGold Nugget Alaska Placer Ak 15.283 Grams .4913 Ozt Circle DistrictGenuine Gold Nugget Alaska 9.03 GramGold Nuggets Vintage Alaska Watch Band 61.24 Grams Men's Base 10kt Green JadeGold Nuggets 20.274 Grams Alaska .6518 T Oz Natural Placer #12 MeshGold Nuggets 15.621 Grams (1/2 Troy Oz.+) Alaska .5021 Oz T Placer #6 DwGold Nugget Alaska Natural Placer 8.201 Grams .2636 Toz 40mile Napoleon CreekGold Nugget Alaska Placer Ak 8.799 Grams .2828 Ozt Circle DistrictGold Nuggets 15.724 Grams Alaska .5055 Toz. 1/2 Toz.+ Placer Gold #30 High PureGold Nugget Alaska Placer Ak 13.917 Grams .4474 Ozt Circle DistrictGold 14kt 11.62mm Bangle Bracelet 39.01 Grams Hallmarked Engraved Floral DesignGold Nuggets 15.59 Grams (1/2 Toz.+) Alaska .5012 Oz T Natural Placer #8 DwGold Nugget Alaska Placer Ak 6.941 Grams .2231 Ozt Circle District14kt Yellow Gold 3mm Diamond Cut Rope Chain Necklace 18 - 1/2" Long 18.694 GramsGold Nugget Alaska Natural Placer 6.579 Grams .2115 Toz 40mile Napoleon CreekGold Nuggets 10.485 Grams Alaskan Ak .337 T Oz Natural Placer #10 MeshGold Nugget Alaska Placer Ak 5.707 Grams .1834 Ozt Circle DistrictGold Nugget Alaska Natural Placer 5.751 Grams .1848 Toz 40mile Napoleon CreekGold Nuggets 7.918 Grams (1/4+ Toz.) Alaska .2545 Oz T Natural Placer #16 DwGold Nuggets 7.801 Grams (1/4 T.oz+) Alaska .2508 Oz T Natural Placer #6 DwGold 5 Grams Raw Gold Flakes/pickers Natural Bright Shiny Alaska GoldGold Nugget Alaska Placer Ak 4.987 Grams .1603 Ozt Circle DistrictAlaskan Gold Nugget 4.721 Grams Nice Picker, No Reserve & Free Shipping!Gold Nuggets (4) Ak Natural Alaska Placer 4.188 Grams .1346 Oz T Napoleon Gold14kt Gold Eagle Brooch Pendant Pin 9.74 Grams All GoldGold Nugget Alaska Placer Ak 13.444 Grams .4322 Ozt Circle DistrictYukon Gold Nuggets 4.00 Grams +14 (297)6 Natural Australian Gold Nuggets Total Weight 4.66 G(10) Gold Nuggets 4.14 Grams Alaskan Placer Porcupine Creek #6 MeshLarge Genuine California Placer Gold Nugget 3.843 Grams Bullion River WornYukon Gold Nuggets 4.00 Grams +10 (301)Gold Nuggets 18-22k (4.60g)Gold Nugget Alaska Natural Placer Ak 5.186 Grams .1667 OztGold Nuggets 10.37 Grams (l/3 Toz+) Alaska .3334 Oz T Natural Placer Ak #14(11) Gold Nuggets 4.07 Grams Alaskan Placer Porcupine Creek #6 MeshGold Nuggets 4.05 Grams Alaskan Placer Porcupine Creek #12 Mesh Rush Skagway18k Real Pure Gold Small Nugget Pendant Scrap 5.8 Grams Tested Precious MetalsGold Nuggets 6.06 Grams Alaskan Placer Porcupine Creek #14 Mesh Gold Rush Pure(10) Gold Nuggets 5.15 Grams Alaskan Placer Porcupine Creek #6 MeshGold Nugget Alaska Placer Ak 4.306 Grams .1384 Ozt Circle District14.81 Gram Gold Nugget Out Of Alaska Gold Nuggets 4.02 Grams Alaskan Placer Porcupine Creek #8 Mesh Gold Rush ShowGold Nuggets (3) Natural Alaska Placer 3.393 Grams Ak .109 Ozt 40mile Napoleon¼ Troy Ounce Gold Flakes/nuggets Alaska4.46 Gram Gold Nugget Out Of Alaska 10kt Yellow Gold 4.1mm Anchor Link Chain Necklace 20" Long 9.168 Grams ItalyBeautiful Solid Gold Nugget - 14k / 14k+ - 4.3 GramsGold Nuggets 3.05 Grams Alaskan Placer Porcupine Creek #14 Mesh Gold Rush PureGold Nugget Alaska Natural Placer 3.785 Grams .1217 Toz 40mile Napoleon Creek14kt Plain Yellow Gold Band 53.8mm Ring Sz. 8 - 1/4 Men's Women's 5.103 GramsYukon Gold Nuggets 4.00 Grams +10 (302)Alaska Gold Nuggets 2.894 Grams Nice Pickers Lot Of 3 No Reserve Free Shipping!Gold Nugget Alaska Natural Placer 3.604 Grams .1158 Toz 40mile Napoleon Creek Gold Nugget 2.05 Grams (australian Natural)Gold Nugget Alaska Natural Placer 3.618 Grams .1163 Toz 40mile Napoleon CreekGold Nuggets 4.04 Grams Alaskan Placer Porcupine Creek #14 Mesh Rush SkagwayGold Nugget Alaska Natural Placer 3.256 Grams .1046 Toz 40mile Napoleon Creek