Gold. The mere word conjures up within the mind mesmerizing images of gleaming bars, pirate chests brimming with lustrous booty, or the sparkle of tiny golden fragments peppered along a mountain stream’s bottom. It was these images and others like them that inspired thousands of hungry souls to leave their familiar and comfortable worlds behind to the beckon of this metallurgical fascination. The discoveries of this yellow metal and the subsequent rushes to the distant lands of California (1848), Australia (1851), Colorado (1858), and Alaska (1896) brought them from all over the globe. Plunging hands and pan into the icy waters time and time again to shake value from the sands was the constant ritual, often with nothing or very little to show for the effort. On occasion, however, one would hit ‘pay dirt’ with some granules of gold flashing in the crevices of the pan, or eyeing a small nugget resting in the shallows. Men became rich, but most ended their desperate searches in futility.


 
Even today, the search for gold continues, though much of the work has been significantly eased through the wonders of technology. The necessity of physically moving, for example desert soils to a water source for washing away all that isn't gold is no more. Satellites circling miles above our blue planet can aid in new discoveries. Sophisticated and affordable metal detectors conveniently differentiate between precious and fill. It is with this hand-held device that the gold nugget which resides in this cabinet of curiosities was found.
 
 
Gold Prospector
     
This natural gold nugget was first thought to have originated in Northern California. However, upon careful inspection and assessment, it appears to have come from Australia, due to its significant fineness (nearing 23ct) and rich color as well as possessing tiny bits of brown soil characteristic of this part of the world. The nugget weighs 56 grams, or about 1.8 troy ounces, and with its intriguing shape and small chambers formed from eroded minerals, has wonderful eye appeal. Its size makes this nugget quite scarce, as only about 4% of gold found worldwide is in nugget form, and the vast majority of natural nuggets weigh less than one ounce. Another factor to consider is that as the price of an ounce of gold has risen (US$65.00 in 1973; US$1,800 in 2011), more natural gold has been sold and delivered to smelters, reducing significantly the population of these natural and unique objet d’art.  
 
Australian Gold Nugget
56 gms
     

     
Natural Gold Nugget
Date: 2006
Location: Australia
Weight: 56 grams
Provenance: California rock and mineral dealer purchase

Gold nuggets, though not pure gold command a significant premium to its gold content due to the rarity of naturally occurring nuggets. As the size increases, so does the premium, with specimens over 1/2 ounce carrying a premium of $20-$25 per gram over its gold melt value.

 
   
     
     

 

 
         
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