Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Gold nuggets


#1

Hi Orchid friends, A newbie question as usual, which’ll probably be a
fairly easy one for the veterans. I’ve seen lots of gold nuggets up
for auction via ebay and have wondered first off, if those are for
real. If so, can you melt them down as is either into a mold or form
into a freeform shape? Only having dealt with silver so far I’m dumb
when it comes to working with gold. Anybody care to venture an
answer on this?

Thanks as always, you guys always have such great advice for us
"kids", Carol


#2

Carol, Yes, the nuggets you see on ebay are for real, but look
closely at the weights. The ones I have looked at were expressed in
grains, not grams Although they look big on your screen they are
magnified “to show detail”(and also I suspect to lure the buyer who
doesn’t read the description very carefully).They are really very
tiny. Calculate the weight per Troy ounce you would be paying and
you will see that it is much cheaper to buy it from a regular
supplier. As far as melting nuggets down to make something else, you
might be able to, but why would you? They are already freeform .
Most nuggets contain impurities which make them unworkable without
some amount of refining. Many contain quartz inclusions and small
air pockets which form blisters on the surface and make little
explosions when heated.Most pawn shops buy old beat up and broken
jewelry which they collect until they are ready to ship it off to a
refiner. If you are looking for a little gold to experiment with,
you might try there. Jerry in Kodiak


#3
    Hi Orchid friends, A newbie question as usual, which'll
probably be a fairly easy one for the veterans. I've seen lots of
gold nuggets up for auction via ebay and have wondered first off,
if those are for real. If so, can you melt them down as is either
into a mold or form into a freeform shape? Only having dealt with
silver so far I'm dumb when it comes to working with gold. Anybody
care to venture an answer on this? Thanks as always, you guys always
have such great advice for us "kids", Carol 

All gold nuggets are not equal. Alaskan gold is usually/often very
low karat as well as some other sources. Make sure you are getting
what you think you are getting. Also, nugget gold is often more $$
per carat than casting shot or other forms of gold. Just a couple
of things to keep in mind.

JD


#4

Hi! My name is Debi Haldiman and I have been reading and enjoying the
digest for some time. I began jewelry design with making sterling
and large gemstone beaded pieces 3 years ago. I am currently
attending silversmith classes at UCSD and have set up a complete
studio in my home. I love working with metal and gemstones and
appreciate so much the and experience that you all share
in this forum.

Carol, I have had experience with using gold nuggets. My husband
prospects for gold and I have used some of his “flakes” to cast. It
has worked out fine. Not long ago I tried rolling sheet and wire. It
turned out to be too brittle and I will be melting it down for
casting instead. There must be some other ‘ingredient’ in the gold
that makes it brittle. I alloyed the casting to 14K and the sheet and
wire to 18K. Hope this helps, Debi


#5

To a collector, natural gold nugget specimens are generally worth
about twice their intrinsic gold value. If you’re going to melt 'em
down just for the gold, you’d be better off selling the nugget,
buying gold from a vendor, and pocketing the difference. If someone
is offering to sell you a “natural nugget” at spot prices, they are
either foolish or trying to rip you off with a manufactured nugget.

All the best,
Dave
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com


#6
     Not long ago I tried rolling sheet and wire. It turned out to
be too brittle and I will be melting it down for casting instead.
There must be some other 'ingredient' in the gold that makes it
brittle. I alloyed the casting to 14K and the sheet and wire to
18k." 

Debi, Raw gold nuggets contain other metals as well in varying
quantities. Unle ss you assayed the nuggets, you had no way of
knowing just what their pu rity was so there was no way to tell
just what the final purity of the r esulting sheet or wire was. I
make nugget jewelry and have worked with nu ggets for many years from
different locations, mostly from Alaska, and ha ve found widely
varying degrees of purity but very rarely anything really close to
24k. I recently bought a quantity of very fine gold from a pl acer
mine north of Fairbanks however that is close enough to 24k that it
draws and rolls like a dream. The California gold I have used tends
to ha ve a much more yellow hue and I believe contains silver rather
than the c opper which seems to be the main impurity in the Alaskan
material. Occasi onally I have melted nuggets to see just how
malleable the would be but a lways had the same results that you
did.

Jerry in Kodiak


#7

Dave, I’m not sure about other areas, but here in Alaska I have
bought nuggets from the refiner at anywhere from a few percent below
spot to 30 per cent over spot depending on various factors such as
size, purity and availability.Prices are graduated according to
size, fines being the lowest t hose suitable for overlay next, then
those for pendants, etc… Prices on the larger nuggets, say over
ten dwt. are often sold on an individual b asis depending on the
"character’ of the piece. Some just look better and are valued
higher by collectors and jewelers and are sold accordingly. A s I
understand it the miners usually get about 80% of spot. This is
based on the total weight of the material not on the gold content
itself. It is therefore sometimes possible to buy from the miner at
less than spot but at slightly more than they would receive from
the refiner,particularl y in Spring when they are putting together
their grubstake for the Summer mining season. I haven’t bought from
the refiner for several years howev er and don’t know the current
situation, however in the past three years or so prices rose as a
result of the closure of the Valdez Creek mine whi ch had supplied
most of the nuggets available here for quite a few years. Retail
prices here for pendants made with nuggets that have simply had a
bail soldered on are usually twice spot, based on the the weight of
the nugget itself regardless of purity. That’s probably more than
most people wanted to know about the subject so I’m going to quit and
go out and catch a couple of King Salmon. Jerry in Kodiak