The biggest gold nuggets

The discovery of one of the world’s biggest gold nuggets always sends shockwaves of excitement throughout the mining world, but it entices the general public too. The idea of finding a lump of the dense precious metal is the dream of many prospectors.

The weight, the unique shine and – of course – the high value, all make finding a big gold nugget a once-in-a-lifetime moment, and it is that windfall or lottery moment that makes these gold finds so interesting.

A gold nugget is a fragment of gold that has been removed from its original lode. This happens by one of two methods; erosion or mining. Gold nuggets that have been eroded will typically exhibit smoother edges as evidence of their exposure to water. Nuggets that are removed from lodes directly, by careful mining, are usually still crystalline in nature, and often contain quartz or other lode matrix materials.

Gold nuggets are usually of around 80% to 90% purity and those of higher fineness will have a richer, deeper gold colour. The most common impurities in nuggets are silver and copper but, if high enough amounts are present, the nugget will then be considered as Electrum.

What is the biggest gold nugget ever found?

Choosing the 5 biggest gold nuggets is more difficult than might first be imagined. Many of the largest gold nuggets ever found no longer exist making it difficult to validate them and ensure accurate measurements.

For example, the ‘Welcome Stranger’ is often considered to be one of the biggest gold nuggets ever found. Weighing 78kg, this gold nugget was found in Australia in 1869. Today it would likely be displayed in a museum, but the Welcome Stranger was instead divided into three parts in order to make it easier to transport and melt down.

This appears to be the biggest gold nugget ever found, but over the thousands of years of human history it is possible that a bigger gold nugget could have been found. Many such gold nuggets have sadly passed into legend and can no longer be seen.

Below we have listed the top 5 named gold nuggets that still exist today and can be viewed.

Top 5 biggest gold nuggets

1) Pepita Canaã – 60.82kg

The Pepita Canaã is the world’s largest gold nugget and was found in the Serra Pelada – the ‘Naked Mountain’ – in Brazil in 1983. With a gross weight of 60.82kg and containing 52.33kg of gold, this equates to 1,682 troy ounces and would be worth €2,823,724.78 based on metal value alone at today’s gold price.

The Canaan gold nugget was purchased in 1984 by the Banco Central do Brasil, and is now displayed in their money museum in Brasilia. The museum also contains two other, unnamed nuggets weighing 46.85kg and 43.34kg respectively, which were also mined in Serra Pelada. These two would be worthy of their own places on this list but, being unnamed by Brazilian authorities, remain confined to anonymity.

The Pepita Canaã is controversial in that the original nugget was reportedly much larger, but split into several pieces during its removal from the ground. Given it is still the world’s largest nugget, one can only imagine how impressive it might have been were it removed whole.

2) The Great Triangle – 36.2kg

Found in the Russian Urals in 1842, the Great Triangle is considered the second largest gold nugget still in existence. The Great Triangle weighs 36.2kg, and has 32.94kg or 1,059 troy ounces of gold, giving it a metal spot value of €1,777,838.61.

The nugget is owned by the Russian state, and is on display as part of the ‘Diamond Fund’ collection at the Kremlin in Moscow. Russia is still one of the largest gold producers in the world to this day, with the country mining 272.3 tonnes of gold in 2017.

3) Hand of Faith – 27.66kg

As mentioned above, Australia has produced some of the biggest gold nuggets ever found. The gold rush in Victoria throughout the 1850s produced several large nuggets: The Welcome Stranger, the Welcome Nugget and the Lady Hotham are just some of Australia’s biggest gold nuggets found.

Still in existence today though is the Hand of Faith. Weighing 27.66kg, the Hand of Faith had 875 troy ounces of gold and would be worth €1,468,941.25 the current 2022 gold price.

Hand of Faith Gold Nugget

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Creative Commons.

The Hand of Faith was found in 1980 in Kingower – located in the famous Victoria region of Australia – and was discovered with a metal detector. It was purchased by the Golden Nugget Casino in the USA and is on display in their casino lobby in Las Vegas, Nevada.

4) Normandy Nugget – 25.5kg

Australia also lays claim to the fourth largest gold nugget – the Normandy Nugget. Weighing 25.5kg, the Normandy Nugget has a purity between 80 and 90 percent.

Found in 1995 in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia – an important present-day mining centre – the Normandy was purchased in 2000 by Normandy Mining. The company is now part of the Newmont Gold Corporation, and the nugget is on display in the Perth Mint museum.

Australia is the world’s second largest gold producer, with 289 tonnes mined in 2017.

5) Ironstone Crown Jewel – 16.4kg

The Crown Jewel is quite unique as a gold nugget, in that it is crystalline leaf gold. Found in 1992 by the Sonora Mining Company, the Crown Jewel was found in a quartz rock formation. Using hydrofluoric acid however, the Ironstone nugget was cleaned and most of the quartz removed.

At 16.4 kg, the Crown Jewel contains 527 troy ounces of gold, with a metal value of €884,722.33. It is on display at the Heritage Museum in Ironstone Vineyards, California.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Creative Commons.

California is famous for the gold rush of the 1840s and 50s, and the USA mined 210 tonnes of gold in 2017, making it the 4th highest producer in the world.

Largest gold nugget

In late 2018, miner Henry Dole - an employee of RNC Minerals - found what is now claimed to be the largest ever gold nugget. While digging in the Beta Hunt mine near Kambalda in Western Australia , Dole found a gold nugget weighing 89 kg, beating all the others on our list, and the previous historical leader, the Welcome Stranger.

The nugget is still waiting for verification of size and purity to claim its place as the world's largest gold nugget. Once determined, the gold nugget can receive an estimated value, but it will be worth millions for the gold content alone. Given its new claim as the world’s biggest gold nugget it will undoubtedly fetch a price into the tens of millions thanks to its rarity.