Before I start I want you to know what an
uproar this article has caused. I get emails about
it all the time. The emails run 50 positive to every 1
negative email. The positive emails are usually
from the buyers of nuggets, and the negative ones are
from unethical sellers of nuggets. But I have also
gotten several very nice letters from some of the bigger
ethical gold nugget sellers on Ebay. In fact one
of the biggest sellers asked if he could use this article.
The purpose of this article is to give new
gold nugget buyers at least a basic understanding of buying
gold, and enough knowledge to hopefully avoid some of
the pitfalls. The biggest complaint I've heard from
some disappointed folks who have bought nuggets, has been
that they thought the nugget they were buying was much
bigger. The problem occurred because of the picture;
and the seller provided no standard of measurement, either
by weight or something to gauge the size like a ruler
or a point of reference like an object of known size;
like a nugget laying next to a dime. Sellers should
be honest and forthright about what it is that they are
selling, and Buyers should feel comfortable that the seller
has given them enough information to make an informed
buying decision. So with that being said, I hope
you will have a better understanding of the purpose and
intent of this article.
I know a lot of you are educated gold nugget
buyers, and this is not directed towards you. However,
there may be some people who are new to buying gold nuggets
and I see a lot of bidders on Ebay who are setting themselves
up for disappointment, to my way of thinking.
I'd like someone to explain to me the consumer mentality
that is operating on Ebay when people are buying nuggets
and paying what amounts to $1,500 an ounce for a piece
of gold that is not even a REAL Natural NUGGET!
A REAL NUGGET is one that has been made by Mother Nature!
There have been nuggets sold on Ebay where if people had
read the fine print carefully they would have seen that
the nugget was man made.
First, the price for smaller nuggets 1 to 2 grams usually
runs around 10% to 40% over spot gold price. Larger Nuggets 3 to 5 grams around
20% to 50% over spot gold price. Real Large nuggets 6 to 7 grams, 30% to 50% over spot gold price.
Really Large nuggets 8 grams up to 16 grams 30% to 60% over spot gold price.
Over 16 grams and the really really large nuggets 1 ounce
or more well these are extremely rare and it's sort of
a "what ever the traffic will bear" type of situation.
REAL Gold nuggets are like diamonds, the bigger they are
the more rare they are. Now granted, these prices
can fluctuate, depending upon the aesthetic appeal of
the nugget. Some are very pretty, others are as ugly as
a baby vulture. A 1 gram ugly may go for $40 a gram,
the 1 gram jewelry grade nugget may go for as much as
$100 per gram. And let's not forget, everyone has
different tastes. Some folks like the smooth river
worn looking nuggets, others like nuggets that are more
rough and jagged, still other folks like nuggets with
quartz or ironstone in them.
Some folks just like to collect different
types of nuggets. No matter what you pay, as long
as you like the nugget, and you feel good about the
price, and the seller has given you enough honest information
for you to make an informed decision, then you have
invested in a rare piece of what God and Mother Nature
Sometimes people are willing to pay a little
more for a particular shape or type of nugget because
that's precisely what they have been looking for.
I heard a story of someone who paid handsomely for a
nugget because it was shaped like the letter "L" and
that was the initial of his family's last name.
I don't have a problem with anyone paying
whatever they feel comfortable paying for a nugget,
no matter the price. The problem I have is when
the person buying the nugget has an expectation that
they are getting something much different than that
which arrives in the mail after the sale is complete.
When nuggets are advertised without a weight
or measurements, or standard of reference for size you
have nothing to go on but to guess from the picture.
Imagine how disappointed you would feel if you had won
the bid on a nugget that appeared to be the size of
a penny, and when it came in the mail it was the size
of a kitchen match head.
There are approx. 31 grams in a troy ounce of gold. I
see people advertising, "HUGE gold nugget" on Ebay and
then I look at the ad to see that these are 1 gram nuggets.
A 1 gram nugget IS NOT a HUGE nugget! It may be huge compared
to a flake of gold, but where nuggets are concerned a
1 gram nugget is pretty run of the mill. A 1 gram
nugget is a little bigger than the size of a kitchen match
head. These 1 gram nuggets are bidding out at sometimes
very high prices. Which is fine as long as the buyer knows
exactly what he or she is buying. But remember a
1 gram nugget is ONLY .032 of an ounce. A more recent trend on ebay is seller selling nuggets that are less than 1 grain in weight. There are 15.54 grains in one gram, so a 1 grain nuggets is ONLY .002 of an ounce
I think a lot of folks are getting boon swoggled into
buying what they think is a big piece of gold only to
find out when it arrives that it's just a little bigger
than a flattened BB. This is going to turn people off
to buying gold nuggets on Ebay and legitimate gold prospectors/dealers
like myself will be hurt in the process.
Then there are those people on Ebay that advertise HUGE
REAL GOLD NUGGET, and don't even give a weight! And again,
sometimes I can get a sense that these nuggets are not
even a gram and sometimes they bid out at prices so high
that it leads me to believe the bidders must think the
nugget is a good size chunk. Or some sellers don't give
a weight but show the nugget next to a ruler, but you
can only see one number on the ruler and the graduations.
Below is a nugget, that I've taken a picture
of with a macro lens that makes it look enormous and it's
laying next to the number 4 on the ruler with graduation
marks. Well these close up shots make the graduations
look like 1/4 inch marks, but they're not! They
are 1/8 inch marks. Without seeing at least two
numbers on a ruler, you have no idea of what value to
place on the graduation marks! And nuggets are
not sold by dimension, they are usually sold by weight.
Dimensions are fine in addition to weight but probably
a better way to judge a nugget is to have it pictured
next to something familiar; like a nugget next to a dime,
or a nugget held in someone's hand.
Here's the picture I took of one of those HUGE nuggets
that weighs 1 gram presented in a rather deceptive manner.
Well how big is this nugget really? Look at the
next picture where I'm holding the nugget in my hand next
to a dime.
Does this next picture give you a better
idea of the REAL SIZE of a 1 gram nugget?
This is one of my 1 gram real natural nuggets
and it is jewelry grade, but you couldn't make a pendant
out of it. Maybe you could make a stickpin, a tie
tack, or one stud earring. I may be prejudice, being
that it is a nugget I found, but I think it's pretty.
It has a unique shape and a lot of interesting natural
design giving it character. I'd probably pay between
50% to 100% over spot gold price for this nugget.
BUT! Add a 14k gold stick with a clutch, and a 5
point real diamond and WHAM! A beautiful stick
pin appraised value would be much higher.
Then we have the third type of advertiser
that promotes his gold nugget as 33 grns. GRNS is the
abbreviation for GRAINS not grams! There are 480 grains
in an ounce. A GRAIN is only .0648 of a GRAM, or
.0021 of an ounce. And yet people are snapping these things
up at bid prices that flip my stomach.
The advertiser is advertising that the weight
is in "GRNS." It is up to you as the consumer to
know that GRNS means Grains not Grams and to know exactly
what you are buying and how much you are paying for it.
If you understand the difference between Grains and Grams
and you want to pay what amounts to an excessive price for
a man made nugget then that is your privilege.
When it comes to buying gold on Ebay the old Latin saying
"Caveat emptor", (Buyer beware!) takes on special significance.
So what's the difference between a jewelry
grade nugget and a baby vulture nugget? Well I've
already shown you a pretty little 1 gram jewelry grade
nugget made into a stick pin, (by the way my wife snatched
that stick pin right away from me so I never got a chance
to put it on Ebay), but here's a nugget I consider an
Well here's a .6 gram baby vulture:
Personally I don't like this nugget.
I don't like its color, I don't like it's shape.
In my opinion it's butt ugly!
Beauty or Beast? How about this 1.5 gram
containing laterite, an iron type substance?
Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder
I guess, and I like this nugget! It's unique!
Beautiful color and interesting design. The laterite
adds a striking contrast. It almost looks like Onyx.
It might make an interesting tie tack.
QUARTZ GOLD SPECIMENS
And what about quartz gold specimens?
Quartz and gold specimens are very rare. They are
worth as much and most of the time more than pure gold
because of their rarity. Why are they rare?
Because most nuggets have already fallen out of the host
quartz. Gold and iron are usually found together
in veins in the cracks and fissures of quartz. As
the iron oxidizes or rusts, it causes the quartz to fall
apart and liberate the gold held inside.
Here are a couple of pieces from my personal collection.
The first is from Whitehills Arizona. It weighs
4.2 grams and is about 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch. The
gold is attached to very rusty quartz. Remember, iron
is the mother of gold! This was given to me by a
very good friend and prospecting partner of mine, John
Green. I guess I carried on so long about how unique
this piece was he figured giving it to me was the only
way to shut me up. This type of specimen is generally
considered to have been formed by extremely high pressure
and temperatures and steam. White Hills has a large
dormant volcano right in the middle of the gold producing
area. The high pressure and temperature melted and
forced the gold to the surface but the steam prevented
in from forming into a vein. Instead, it has a gold
matrix formation throughout the quartz. Notice the
small quartz crystal formations at the top of the specimen.
It was as if the molten gold was blasted into the quartz
under high pressure.
The second is from Greg's Reef in Australia. It
was given to me by a good Aussie friend and professional
prospector, Dave Langley. It is pure white quartz,
with a vein of pure gold sticking out of it. This
is an extremely rare piece as there is no iron rust staining.
This piece weighs in at 5.5 grams.
Prices? Well, these really are collectors
items. You may be competing with museums, and/or
universities who buy such pieces for their displays.
The more unique the piece, and unusual the structure,
the more valuable. The first piece could sell for
upwards of around $400, the second, $600. It is
really a sellers market when it comes to specimens.
The third piece is also from Australia and
found by another good Aussie Mate of Mine, Chris Hake
from Kalgoorlie, WA. This is really a museum quality
piece. It's a beautiful example of quartz with gold
just dripping all over it.
REAL, Natural Gold Nuggets (nuggets dug out
of the ground), are in fact a rare commodity. It's estimated
that only 3% to 5% of the world's gold is found
in nugget form. And the larger the nugget, the more rare
they are; just like diamonds. I've heard that a 1 ounce
nugget is as rare as a 5 carat diamond. And REAL
NUGGETS, sell for more than spot gold, especially if they
are jewelry grade. BUT buyers still deserve to have a
good solid idea of exactly what it is that they are buying;
so if you are in doubt, ask the seller.
Here's a conversion chart to help everyone figure out
just what they are getting. Don't buy from people that
don't tell you the weight, and be careful of whether the
ad is advertising a nugget in grains or grams and whether
it is a REAL NATURAL GOLD nugget, (a natural nugget, one
dug from the ground), or a REAL GOLD nugget; a nugget
someone made from real gold. A REAL NATURAL NUGGET, one
that is made by Mother Nature and dug from the ground,
is more valuable.
- Weight Conversion Chart
Rounded-off to 4 decimal places.
= Penny Weight. This is a convenient way to size nuggets
because 20 pennyweights equal 1 ounce. So, 5 dwt (penny
weight) is a 1/4 ounce, 10 dwt is a 1/2 ounce etc.
However grams seems to be the most widely used weight
measurement. So keep in mind that there are 31 grams
to the ounce, so a 8 gram nugget is a little over a 1/4 ounce,
a 16 gram nugget is over a 1/2 ounce, etc.
1999 G.M. Lousignont, Ph.D.
all right reserved
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