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Nugget techniques

Occasionally someone will bring me their old gold from rings or
chains and ask me to make a nugget pendant (splash). I don’t have
casting equipment. So, for those of you who don’t cast them, would
you please share with me your “secrets”? I have seen some
beautifully made ones and wonder how they were made. Thanks in

Dale Pavatte, Decherd, Tennessee

Dave Melt the gold on a soldering block and form into a bead. Then
increase the flame distance till you hit the ‘plastic’ stage. then
use old files flat pieces of metal, etc. poke holes in with an old
needle file and the shape it, good luck, Ringman John

I don't have casting equipment. So, for those of you who don't cast
them, would you please share with me your "secrets"? 

Dave, one of the easiest and simplest way to make a nugget is by
simply melting the metal in a crucible, then pouring it into a tin
can full of water. make the tin can large enough and deep enough so
the gold has solidified before it hits the bottom. If the gold is
fairly hot, and poured into the water fairly close to the water, when
it hits, many bits of it will splash into somewhat cup shaped very
attractive thin forms. Other parts will just be blobs. Experiment
with pouring height and speed, and melt temp, to get the best
results. After each pour, Fish the results from the water, keep the
bits you like, remelt the rest and repeat. You’ll end up fairly
quickly, with a handful of interesting shapes. These can be soldered
together if you like, but I usually arrange them on a charcoal block,
with remaining tiny bits scattered around, especially at contact
points between larger bits, and with a small flame tight flame, weld
the various parts together. As the various contacts weld together,
let them slightly combine and just start to slump at the contact, but
don’t let the overall pieces loose much of their shape. When you’re
done, the combination of the original organic splash shapes, modified
by the distortion and slumping of welding/fusing them all into one
piece again, can give you a totally unique nugget. usually, I’ll
save a few of the more non-descript bits, melt them into a small
single blob, roll that out into a somewhat random longish strip,
bend it around to a somewhat freeform bail shape, and fuse that to
the main body of the nugget too. When done, all the customers gold
is in the piece, and non of yours, nor any of your solder. If you
then throw it in a tumbler to clean up, the whole thing can be done
in maybe a half hour or so…


Use a flat piece of cuttle fish, mark a shape on it, take something
like a watchmakers screwdriver 1/8th inch wide and cut into the
cuttlefish randomly over the complete marked area approximately 1/4
inch or more deep Note: When you are cutting make one incision, do
not go over that cut again and cut at different angle and depths for

When finished, pour molten metal directly into mould until full.
Finally solder a jump ring on and this will give you a randomly
facetted locking nugget, looks nice when polished, Regards Alan UK

The Watch & Jewellery Workshop

i have found a great way to deal with this!

i melt the metal (silver/gold/whatever) into balls of different
sizes. (from approximately 1" to very very tiny) then these can
either be soldered together into formations and rolled through the
mill to make a more modern “nugget” look which i call “bubbles”.
another thing i do is melt the metal into small balls, solder them to
square wire stock or some such base, and then hammer the balls flat.
some flush set stones in these look fabulous! you can also solder the
balls together when round as i first said, roll them flat, then go
back and solder more on, and either leave them round or flatten them
also, either with the rolling mill again, or the ball peen hammer. i
experiemnt with this with left over fine silver, and is fun and give
me lots of ideas.

joanna gollberg

Dale -

I was taught to use coarse kosher salt to cast nuggets. I pour the
melt right into the dry salt, cool then pickle.


To get some really neat shapes pour the molten metal over ice. Fill
a deep pan or coffee can with crushed ice and add water about half
way up the side. Be sure to add the water, I burned a hole clear
through the bottom of a pan I was using once. Jan

One thing I used to do, back in the day, was pour the molten gold
into rock salt. Sometimes worked quite nicely. You can also dig
out a charcoal block into a rough depression, and melt the gold
scrap into it. When it’s nice and melted, press it down with a
block of wood. Smoky, but that works, too… -BK in AK

Folks: Easy way to make many small to large perfect looking nuggets
is to use raisins. Use different sizes, add wax rabbit ears, sprue,
burn out and cast. You can hollow them out if they are very dry
using a burr. Cover the hole with wax, bingo less gold. Barry

Two more “nuggets” from one who made too many twenty years ago. On
a well worn charcoal block, where you can see some evidence of the
wood grain, melt the gold and then place another piece of charcoal or
other soldering block on top of the molten metal squishing it
between. you may remove some of the block to partially control the
shape, some interesting textures are possible, this is most effective
when using modest amounts of metal and you can achieve a large look.
An interesting "stalagtite " effect is achieved by using wet straw,
we always used an old broom, wet the old broom head , stick it in a
can, [straw facing up ] and pour away, if small pieces remain , try
fusing them together ala Peter R’s post…

Mark Clodius

 You can also dig out a charcoal block into a rough depression,
and melt the gold scrap into it.  When it's nice and melted, press
it down with a block of wood.  Smoky, but that works, too... -BK in

Thanks for this bit of creative inspiration, Brent! I have a few old
charcoal blocks that are well used and showing a lot of "character."
I melted some gold scrap into one of the more interestingly textured
areas and pressed down with new(ish) charcoal block. After playing
with this technique a bit I’ve got some really neat textured elements
for some new pieces. Not too “nuggetty”, but almost a squarish
reticulated texture! Too much fun! Where else can you melt things
with a torch and call it work?!? :wink:

Thanks again!
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

Dave, and all-- If you liked using a charcoal block to get textured
bits, here’s something else you might like. I learned this from
Marne Ryan, at the Revere Academy. CAUTION: take all precautions
when trying this, because it can result in flying molten metal! Eye
protection, apron, and leather gloves are all basic good ideas
(though I cofess I don’t wear gloves). You will need two fairly clean
(new) charcoal blocks, and I believe the compressed kind are a
little better for this than the natural. You also need a pan, like a
baking pan , of good size (I use 9x13") and deeper than the height
of one charcoal block. Also keep a dish of water on hand, larger
than the surface of the block. Put one block inside the pan. Melt a
small amount of metal scrap into a liquid ball in the center of one
block. Withdraw the torch, wait about 1 to 1 1/2 seconds, then smack
down on it with the second block, with a slight sliding motion.
Harder than a “press”, but not full force, either. With a little
practice, the result will be a fascinating splat shape, which can
then be fused to a backing sheet, with its friends, or whatever way
you can think of. Not nuggety, but a lot of fun, and some very cool
results. Just be prepared to remelt your results for a while, until
you get the hang of the correct angle, wait time, and amount of
force. The dish of water is to dip the surface of your hand-held
block into, if it gets too hot. If the metal sticks to either block,
a dip in water will usually release it. Have (careful) fun!


Thanks for all the great ideas on making nuggets. I am having a
lot of fun dropping the molten metal into a bucket of water. I
finally discovered what to do with all the scrap silver I had laying
around. Dividing it up into eight gram groups, I now have ten cup
shaped (one turned out like an angel) nuggets for inventory.
Everyone may know this, but the metal stays together better and is
cleaner if you coat it in flux before each melt. Dale Pavatte,
Diamonds For You, Decherd, Tennessee