The Rarity of Gold Nuggets

To understand the rarity of natural gold nuggets, it is important to consider the overall rarity of gold itself, and then consider how uncommon it is to find natural gold in nugget form.

We all know that gold itself is a rare mineral, especially with its current record high price and interest among collectors and investors. It is estimated that all of the world’s gold that has been mined in the history of the earth would fit into a cube that is roughly 20 meters cube.

Think about that for a moment. All of the gold found during the gold rushes of the 1800’s. All of the huge open pit mines that have been operating for decades around the world. Every piece of gold from the Egyptians, Mayans, Incas, along with every ring, necklace, gold coin and bar ever produced over thousands of years would fit in one 20 meter cube. This speaks to how extremely rare gold is.

The rarity of gold nuggets is even more apparent when we consider that prior to just a few decades ago nearly all natural gold was melted down. Only a very few gold nuggets were kept in their natural state, instead smelted down for their gold content alone. Huge gold nuggets like the Welcome Stranger Nugget in Australia were valued merely for their gold content and nothing else. Only in relatively recent history has the beauty of natural gold nuggets been valued among collectors.

Since almost all gold nuggets have been melted down, today they are valued much higher than for just their gold value.

Another interesting fact to consider is that less than 2% of gold that is recovered today is in the form of gold nuggets. The vast majority of gold produced in commercial mining operations today comes as a product of lode mining, where to gold is recovered by crushing and processing hard rock ore.

Often this gold is considered to be “micron gold”, so small that it is invisible to the naked eye. This gold is certainly valuable, but it is not rare in the same way that a natural gold nugget is.

Putting a specific number on the number of large nuggets that exist today would be quite a challenge and highly subjective. It is commonly stated that only “X” amount of nuggets over a certain size exist, but it would be silly to assume that every nugget found around the world has been documented.

What can be said with absolute certainty is that gold nuggets, especially large gold nuggets, are quite rare and will always command a premium price to collectors because of this fact.

During the early gold rush days, miners routinely recovered sizable gold nuggets while placer mining, but the easy stuff has mostly been found and finding sizable nuggets is extremely difficult to do today. Although they are still being recovered, it is exceedingly rare, as the best ground gets mined out.

Even today, much of the gold that is being mined in 3rd world countries is being melted down, as they have no access to collectors who would gladly pay a premium price for a gold nugget.

Also Read: Investing in Gold Nuggets

Another fact about the rarity of gold nuggets is to consider the smaller percentage of gold nuggets that would be considered collectable or jewelry grade nuggets and specimens. Not all gold nuggets are created equal. The general aesthetic beauty of a natural gold nugget can vary quite a bit. Beautiful investment grade nuggets are exceptionally rare, and will continue to be highly sought after by collectors.

We have seen charts and various formulas to estimate the scarcity of gold nuggets and the numbers of gold nuggets based on their size. The simple truth is that we will really never know the number of gold nuggets that exist, or the undoubtedly huge number of gold nuggets that have been melted down over the years. What we do know with certainty is that gold nuggets are becoming exceedingly rare and difficult to recover, making large gold nuggets and specimens more and more valuable.

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