A natural gold nugget is a piece of native gold that is naturally occurring. They are found by miners in rivers, streams, ancient channels and underground riverbanks and left in their original shape. Gold nuggets are most commonly found in the alluvial deposits, which are sediments that are formed by the movement of water. However, they can be found in other deposits as well. They may also occur in close proximity to primary gold deposits like gold veins or lodes, exposed due to external weather conditions. One may also extract gold nuggets from hard rock deposits of gold, provided that the rock surrounding it can be possibly removed. The chances of finding gold nuggets in tailing pipes of old mining operations that are left behind by the gold mining dredges are also quite reasonable.
Gold nuggets are formed via a natural process. They are formed due to extremely hot water in cracks or fissures in hard rocks. They occur as large clusters of gold crystals, usually with other minerals like quartz or silver. Weathering causes the release of these gold nuggets that end up in streams as a result of the force of gravity. Gold nuggets are natural fragments of gold that have weathered out of an original vein or lode. These nuggets show clear signs of abrasive polishing, which is due to the action of the streams that they’re usually found in. Other precious metals, such as platinum, also form nuggets through a similar natural process.
Alaskan gold nuggets range from 17-23K but are usually 83% to 92% (20K to 22K) pure gold by mass. The purity varies with the area of origin. The natural gold nuggets that are from an Australian origin are usually the purest, containing the highest content of jewelry-grade pure gold. Australian gold nuggets are more than often 23K or higher, which means that they contain about 94% to 98% pure gold, sometimes even more. You can assess the purity of a gold nugget roughly by its color. The deeper the orange-yellow color, the more gold will be present in the nugget. The remainder of the mass of a gold nugget can be made up of different minerals. Gold nuggets that appear blackish or reddish usually contain laterite. Similarly, the nuggets that contain quartz are cloaked with a white deposit. You can melt any gold nugget to obtain pure, jewelry-grade, gold, and sell it off as pure gold.
Natural gold nuggets are found by miners in rivers, streams, ancient channels and underground riverbanks and left in their original shape. Gold nuggets are extremely rare and very difficult to find. In fact less than 2% of all gold found is in nugget form making natural gold nuggets rarer than diamonds. You may not find gold nuggets even in the largest gold mines. However, natural gold nuggets are most commonly found in Australia, Alaska, Arizona, California, and Canada, from where some of the largest natural gold nuggets have been extracted in the past.
The price of a gold nugget varies with the quality and content of pure gold in the nugget. The demand for these gold pieces is high, which make gold nuggets incredibly valuable. The price is usually quoted as price per gram based on the gold market and the type/size of the nugget. For the total price, the price per gram is multiplied by the total weight of the nugget. There are several factors that have a significant impact on the premium over the spot price of gold nuggets such as:
Gold nuggets are found in numerous shapes, sizes, and appearances. Gold nuggets are valued differently than raw gold and gold in coin form. When evaluating natural gold consider several factors. Gold may be valued on: weight, rarity, physical dimensions, shine, brightness or lustre, purity, origin, and whether the nugget is considered collector or specimen grade. In short, the larger and more attractive a gold nugget is, the more valuable it will be.
The place where a gold nugget is extracted has a significant effect on its value. A nugget that was extracted from an obscure location holds more value as compared to a nugget obtained from a more known location.
The size, of course, is the most important factor. The bigger a gold nugget is, the more value it will hold. In fact, larger gold nuggets are extremely rare, therefore you can expect them to have higher premiums for the price per gram than smaller nuggets or small fines.