Gold nugget value

Hi all,

A customer recently brought in a gold nugget, 9.8 grms that was made
into a tie tac some thirty years ago and would like me to use it for
making something in 14KY.

I’ve done a bit of reading and learned that many nuggets are more
valuable as they are, even up to three times their weight in karat
gold. They usually have other minerals included like tiny quartz
crystals, perhaps copper etc., so what would be the best way to
place a value on a nugget? And would it be a better idea to purchase
it for use other than melting it and alloying it?

He no longer wants it and I could offer him it’s (wholesale) value
(if I could figure that out) and use it to create a custom piece (I
would let him know I might do this) or I could have it refined. The
shape is attractive and would make an interesting piece, but I want
to do what is best for my customer, as he offered it as a partial
solution to cut costs for the project in mind.

What do you all think would be the best solution?

Thanks for your good ideas.

Mary Ann Archer

I've done a bit of reading and learned that many nuggets are more
valuable as they are, even up to three times their weight in karat

Sometimes yes, if they are very fine specimins. But in most cases,
once they’ve been soldered to a piece of jewelry, they loose that
mineral specimin status and special value.

If you look at gold nuggets on ebay, you’ll find a lot of them being
sold for pretty near to their gold content value, without much

But it also depends on who’s selling and who’s buying. At a recent
gem show, I saw one dealer who had some exquisite small nuggets with
spectacular crystalization or other forms which were worth far more
as mineral/crystal specimins than their gold value, to judge by his
asking prices. These same, had I been trying to sell them back to
him, would have fetched me a lot less than he was selling them to the
public for.

In your case, made into a tie tack, it’s value is pretty likely to
be pretty close to what it’s gold content is worth, at least that’s
what I’d expect for the size range you describe.


First, alluvial nuggets are getting harder and harder to find,
especially ‘clean’ (i.e. without inclusions of bits of quartz and
other material) nuggets of the type one can use as part of a piece or
that collectors seek. If your client’s nugget is a really attractive
one, it might be a shame to have it refined.

Second, you don’t, at this stage anyway, know exactly how pure the
nugget is or what other minerals are present. Here in Perth, we can
take nuggets to our local Mint and have them assayed, and expect an
average purity of There have been many discussions on this particular
topic on Orchid, so perhaps you could do a bit of research through
the archives, I seem to remember that quite a few people prefer not
to do the alloying themselves because of problems caused by the other
minerals present! In addition, a quick google search of ‘alluvial
nuggets’ will give you some idea of the different minerals found in
natural nuggets.

The link below might give you some ideas - just remember the prices
are in Australian dollars.

I can’t offer a suggestion on which way to go that will work for
both you and your client, but you’d need to take into account either
the cost of having it refined and/or any problems you might encounter
if you try to melt it down and alloy it yourself.

Good luck
Jane Walker

where you can see some natural nuggets combined with other natural
Australian resources to make interesting pieces that tell a story.

First assay it using a test stone if that’s all you have at your
disposal. It’s better than nothing! In my experience with raw gold
from the N. E. nuggets are - IN GENERAL-in the 88-98% 24Kt. gold. The
colour should tell you something as well; the more rich yellow the
colour the higher the percentage of pure gold. You can then just
weigh the nugget and calculate the spot price (from a site like
kitco. com) divided by the number of grams in a TROY oz to arrive at
the price per gram you would offer him if it were pure gold. From
that figure calculate - using the test stone indication- the
percentage of pure gold in your sample,and subtract that %age from
the per gram price to arrive at the final value per gram of the
nugget. Another approach wold be to call on a local gold buyer who
uses an XRF tester in day-to-day operations to give you, in an
instant, the exact composition of the nugget. It will tell you
exactly wht percentage of the weight is what element making it not
only the most accurate but alsofasstest and easiest to calculate (and
he or she would probably have the spot price in front of them as well
!) a fair market value of the gold your client has to offer. To use
it remove all the rock possible with a pendant motor and carbide or
tungsten burs and then add the remainder to your crucible with a bit
of refining flux ( pulverised sal ammoniac and powdered charcoal in a
1:1 ratio) or failing that, just a pinch of borax and boric acid (
wear a respirator, direct the fumes away from you with a fan and do
not stand directly over the melt). Pour the metal into a mold
suitable to the raw material you desire, and let cool to grey then
quench in water. Yu can now karat the gold and colour it at the same
time. If you don’t have any books on the subject or cannot find the
nformation you want in the ganoksin archives, feel free to contact me
off list for instructions ( formulas as to the karat and colour and
weight you are aiming for)… rer.

I have been buying nuggets for years from various sources, ie.
individuals, miners, a refiner here in Alaska who buy from miners,
and ebay. Nuggets sell for slightly under spot to perhaps 30% over
spot depending on size and individual character. I have yet to see
one which sold as high as 3Xspot as you indicate you were told,
although I suppose it could have happened. A local pawn shop here in
town is currently selling nuggets in the 2 to 3 gram range for
$48/gram which figures to around 25% over spot.

Jerry in Kodiak

Thank you everyone for your input about gold nuggets. I’ve learned a
lot more than I did researching the web and at least now, I’ve
decided not to refine it myself. It’s a nice nugget but not specimen
quality, so I’ll most likely just offer him it’s value as a deduction
for the project. Have any of you ever used a nugget for making an
interesting jewelry piece?

Thanks again,
Mary Ann Archer

Have any of you ever used a nugget for making an interesting
jewelry piece? 

Many years ago (let’s not count how many), I had several clients who
were active gold prospectors. They were panning and dry washing at
claims in various location around the southwest US. Most of the gold
they recovered went to refiners but every once in a while when they
accumulated a cache of especially well shaped nuggets they’d want to
have a piece of jewelry made for their wife or daughter.

The nuggets were usually flat and somewhat leaf shaped. I’d solder an
arrangement of them together to create a pendant for a piece of
turquoise or peridot that they had bartered for from one of their
miner compadres.

Michael David Sturlin

sorry everyone but a gold “nugget” during California rush was often
size of a shoe, peeled of exposed rock. deflation is everywhere or is
it inflation?