How To Sell Placer Gold and Gold Nuggets: Complete Guide | Prospectingplanet (2023)

Everybody who has been out in the field prospecting knows that finding gold is hard work. You have to spend hours, days, and weeks exploring new locations, often finding very little or no gold at all. However, hard work will pay off eventually, and once you have managed to get some gold out of the ground you could try to sell your gold to reap the fruits of all your hard labor!

So how do you sell placer gold, or gold nuggets for that matter? To sell placer gold you can go to refineries, local buyers, precious metal dealers, or pawn shops. The amount you can sell your gold for depends on the purity of the gold, its shape, and its size. Moreover, rates vary greatly between buyers, but pawn shops are notorious for paying very low rates.

There is a lot that goes into selling placer gold, and if you’re not vigilant you could easily end up getting way too little for your hard-earned gold.

In this guide, we are going to cover where you should sell your gold, be it fine placer gold or big nuggets, and how to avoid the most common mistakes!

Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

How Much Does Placer Gold Sell For?

There are many markets where you can sell your gold, and depending on the type of gold you have, you will find that some buyers are ready to pay more than others. You should always make sure to look around to found the best available price.

And most important of all, don’t be in a hurry!

If you’re just patient and don’t accept the first available offer, you stand a good chance of eventually finding somebody who can give a fair price for your gold.

Throughout the article, we will look at how much you can expect to get for different types of gold, and what dealers are best suited for each type.

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But just to give you an idea, here are some estimations for the two most common types of gold:

  • Fine Placer Gold: at least 70% of the gold market price.
  • Gold Nuggets: anywhere from 130-300% of market price, or sometimes even more

Obviously, these are very rough numbers as the value of your gold not only depends on the factors we are just about to explain below, but also who the buyer is.

With that said, let’s look at the main pricing factors before we head on to discussing who you should sell your gold to!


It’s important to remember that the gold pieces you find aren’t made up of 100% gold. The exact purity depends on location, but in the US it’s common that placer gold consists of 70-80% pure gold while the rest is made up of alloys like copper and silver. In some cases when you are able to discern significant amounts of iron oxides or other materials in the placer, it could be lower.

Nearly all placer gold consists of somewhere between 60% to 95% gold.

Shape and size

If you’re going to send your gold to a refinery where it will be smelted, the only thing that counts is its purity. However, when selling gold to collectors and jewelers, the shape and size of the gold will often have a big impact on how much you can get.

As a general rule of thumb, the rarer the piece of gold, the more it’s worth. While a quite small nugget could sell for slightly more than the gold market price, a bigger one weighing in at one or several ounces can sell for twice the market price, and sometimes even more than that.

Shape and Beauty

If the gold has a very rare shape, that will also help to increase the price. In general, round-shaped nuggets are not considered beautiful and therefore don’t add a large premium. Instead, odd-shaped nuggets with notable characteristics, such as crystalline gold, will generally command a higher price.

When selling gold nuggets that are out of the ordinary you should look for either a jeweler who specializes in nugget jewelry or nugget collectors. These are two groups of buyers who are often ready to pay quite a large premium.


When selling gold to a refiner, you will generally be paid more if you have a lot of gold to turn in. The processing of the gold itself takes time and costs money, and with larger amounts the economies of scale work in your favor.


American buyers are generally more into buying American gold nuggets, as they are considered rarer than, for instance, Australian gold nuggets. Of course, some home bias could be assumed to be in play here as well.

Where To Sell Placer Gold And Nuggets

How To Sell Placer Gold and Gold Nuggets: Complete Guide | Prospectingplanet (1)

(Video) Where to Sell Placer Gold 2022 Edition

When selling gold it’s critical to understand the various types of buyers you could turn to. They are all looking for different things, and will consequently value your gold differently.

For example, a refinery will look at nothing more than the scrap value of the gold, whereas a collector or jeweler is going to consider the uniqueness, shape, and weight of a gold piece.

Below we have listed the different types of gold buyers, and for what types of gold they are appropriate.

Local Dealers

Best for: fine placer gold

If you are out prospecting in lands that are fairly active with miners, you can often find a local dealer who buys gold from people in the area. Usually, you get paid in cash and can expect to receive between 70% to 85% of the market price, not counting impurities.

As always, there will be people who try to pay you less for the gold than it’s actually worth. As always, patience is really important! Don’t accept getting paid less than 70% of the market price, unless the fineness of the gold is really low. Unless your gold is unusually unpure, you should be able to get at least 70% of market price, and even more if you just wait for the right buyer.

Take the time to ask local miners in your area. They should know who pays the best rates!


Best for: larger quantities of placer gold

Another option is sending in your gold to a refinery which will smelt your gold and pay you only for the actual gold content. In other words, this is NOT a good option if you want to sell gold nuggets or other rare pieces of gold that would command a higher price if sold to a collector or jeweler (covered shortly).

You also want to consider that a refinery is going to spend money on not only smelting your gold, but also to performing an assay in order to find out its purity, and how much they are going to pay you. This means that quite some resources go into handling your gold if you are just sending in small quantities.

Another thing to keep in mind is that most refineries will only pay you for the gold, and not for other metals such as silver or copper that come with it. Be sure to look this up, as you might find that some refineries have more favorable offerings than others.


Best for: small or medium-sized nuggets, crystalline gold, quartz specimens

(Video) Where To Sell Placer Gold

If you have some nuggets or rare pieces of gold that would fit well in jewelry, you might want to look into selling your gold to a jeweler. Although many won’t be willing to pay a good price, there indeed are some that understand the true value of and demand for these types of gold pieces. If you can, try to find a jeweler who specializes or at least offers natural gold jewelry. They exist, and the chances that you’ll get a good price are much higher!

Remember that some jewelers might not only be into gold nuggets. If you have some beautiful quartz pieces that contain gold, you might be able to sell them too.


Best for: Rare and/or special pieces of gold

It may be obvious, but in order to sell something to a collector, the piece you’re offering must be special in some way. To be able to sell your gold to collectors who have been in the game for a while, small nuggets usually won’t do. You want to be able to offer at least reasonably sized nuggets, or something really special such as crystalline or leaf formed gold. The more special the gold, the more you can ask for it.

When selling to collectors, having patience is perhaps even more important than in other cases. You want to find someone who finds your piece of gold especially attractive and is ready to pay a large premium for it. As always, the beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder!

Pawn Shops

If you really are in a hurry and have to get your gold sold quickly, then most pawn shops are going to accept placer gold. Just don’t expect to be paid very much. Many pawnshops go for somewhere around half the gold market price. This usually applies to both fine placer gold and nuggets, which means that there surely are better buyers out there!

Tip: Clean Your Gold Nuggets Before Selling Them

When dealing with any buyer who’s assessing your gold by its psychical appearance in addition to its metal value, you want to make sure to show your gold from its very best side. Take your time to clean the gold thoroughly to make it stand out when the buyer comes to see it.

Cleaning gold requires no more than soapy water and a brush. If that doesn’t work, you may instead try to submerge it into a solution of vinegar and water.

How To Get More When Selling Your Gold

How To Sell Placer Gold and Gold Nuggets: Complete Guide | Prospectingplanet (2)

If you just want to get your gold sold, then the buyers listed above should suit you well. However, with some additional work and initiative, it’s possible to get paid quite a lot more than the market price, even for finer gold that doesn’t bring in a premium during normal conditions.

So, here are three approaches you could take if you are looking to significantly increase the price you can charge for your hard-earned gold!

Sell Pay Dirt

Gold is hard to find, and many people would be happy to pay a quite large premium for a bag of pay dirt. They may simply not be able to reach gold-bearing locations at the moment, or just want to explore gold from various locations without having to pay all the expenses associated with traveling there themselves.

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Beginners also tend to be into pay dirt, as it provides them with the possibility of getting to see real gold in the pan before heading out there.

To sell pay dirt, you need to have access to gold-bearing gravels. Then you just allot a fixed amount of gravel to each pay dirtbag. Depending on how you market your pay dirt and what price you set, you might want to add some extra gold to make sure that each customer at least gets some. You don’t want unhappy reviews complaining about not getting any gold whatsoever.

As to pricing, you could probably charge twice the expected gold value. However, do check around online and see what others charge for theirs. Keeping an eye on the competition is always a good idea!

Remember that you can spice up your offering by including gold nuggets in the bag. Then you could even charge more.

Sell Nuggets Online

With the advent of the internet, the online market for gold nuggets has become a viable option to reach out to potential buyers. If you have some nice nuggets, you may want to market them one by one at sites like eBay.

Sell to Tourists

For many tourists, owning their own piece of untreated, real gold, is something they are ready to pay for. And if you happen to have access to places where tourists frequent, you can sell your gold as souvenirs for a large premium!

The best way to market gold is to make it special. Some common methods include:

  • Placing gold inside small bottles filled with water: This helps magnify the gold and makes it pretty to look at. Perfect for fine placer gold, or flakes of gold.
  • Putting nuggets and bigger gold pieces into jewelry boxes: This will help display the gold, and increase the price people are ready to pay for it.

Sell to Business People

Some businesspeople can be really interested in getting their hands on placer gold. If you happen to find an interested buyer, you can often charge 100% of the gold market price.

2 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Selling Gold

Don’t Be In a Hurry!

As you have probably noticed in this article, the buyers that pay the most also are those that can take the longest time to reach and strike a deal with. Getting yourself in a financial emergency with gold as your last resort is not a situation you want to find yourself in. Be sure to always keep cash for sudden emergencies, and you will be much better off!

Don’t Assume the Refinery Is Right

Although most refineries are sincere with their assays of your gold, as always, there will be some that act in a less scrupulous manner. When sending in gold to a refinery for the first time, make sure to not send in all of it at once, but try a couple of refineries and see how their numbers compare.

Do You Need To Pay Taxes On Sold Gold?

Unfortunately, in the US, gold prospecting isn’t tax-free. Sold gold is considered included in the year’s gross income and is therefore taxable.

For more information, contact your financial advisor.

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Final Words

Once you have put all that hard work into finding gold, you surely want to get as much for it as possible. The two most important things to keep in mind when selling gold are time, and finding the right buyer for your gold. As we have covered in this article, there are loads of options, and we recommend reviewing them one more time to get a better idea of which buyer is likely to pay a good price for your gold.


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