Found in a riverbed in Venezuela, a 217.78 gram gold specimen was recently confirmed by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory to be the largest single crystal of gold in the world. So rare is a single gold crystal of this size, that although the metal gold value is only worth approximately $10,000, this crystal’s value is worth over $1.5 million.
To put the significance of its’ size into perspective, a typical gold crystal only measures about 0.25mm. The crystal specimen tested at Los Alamos is 150 times larger than that, or about the same size as a golf ball.
The owner of the record-holding gold crystal is a man from North Carolina, USA who collected other similar specimens over a 30 year stretch in the jungles of Venezuela. He had sent it to renowned gold crystallography expert John Rakovan, to be tested along with three other samples.
Rakovan and his team used neutron imaging technology to confirm three out of the four specimens were single crystals. “The structure or atomic arrangement of gold crystals of this size has never been studied before, and we have a unique opportunity to do so,” he commented.
Unlike gold nuggets, gold crystals are very rare to find in nature. A gold nugget is formed primarily from gold crystals, but also include some other metal impurities such as silver and copper. Gold nuggets usually range from 20K to 22K purity, while a gold crystal is the purest form of gold available.
The 24K gold alloy used in jewelry and bullion is classified as having 999.5/1000 parts gold or higher; it is impossible to reach crystal form, or 1000/1000 parts pure, through refining processes.