What is Placer Gold

Gold is a precious metal that has only grown in value over the centuries since we as humans began mining and trading it. Gold is beautiful, it is versatile, and there is only a finite amount of it in the surface or the crust of the Earth.

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As such, all gold has value, even what some refer to as, placer gold. It is our goal to help you better understand what placer gold is, what its value might be, and where to find this particular type of gold. Keep reading to find out more and to learn all you can about placer gold.

Where did Gold Come From?

Where did Gold Come From
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Gold is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in the Earth’s crust. It is thought that gold is the result of neutron star collisions long before the solar system fully formed.

Scientists believe that the gold from the star collisions gathered and sank to the core of the Earth as the planet was formed and that we are only able to access it today because asteroids hit the surface of the Earth at one time or other exposing the gold that was there.

This can be a somewhat difficult concept to grasp, put into simpler terms, gold is a collection of particles and metals that can only be formed by the natural processes of the Earth and not by any other manmade process.

Though we have learned to create lab created diamonds and other precious stones, true, pure gold can only come from the natural processes of the Earth.

Here is an interesting video about the origins of Gold.

Where do We Find Gold?

Gold is most commonly found in rocks and other mineral deposits in the Earth’s crust. In most cases, gold is found when people are actually looking for it.

Since gold does not occur close to the surface of the Earth, most gold is found in caves, in rock formations, or through mining down deep into the crust of the Earth in a quest to unearth it. Gold is a metal that can be used for a huge range of different things.

Gold can be used as currency, it can be used in jewelry making, it can be used in electronics, and so much more. It is also just very pretty to look at.

Most of the gold that is purified and melted down today is used to make jewelry and most of the gold that has been found thus far comes from just three countries, China, Australia and South Africa.

What is Placer Gold?

Placer Gold
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This is the question that drove you to this article in the first place. Placer gold is a term that is used for a particular type of gold, though all gold has the same chemical makeup, placer refers to where it is found rather than the physical composition of the gold itself. As we talked about earlier, gold is found in the crust of the Earth, this means rock and dirt and other hard to access areas.

This gold is referred to as the lode, as in the pay load. This is the gold that is in the original deposit and that has to be removed with secondary means rather than just being able to pick it up and walk off with it.

Gold that is not mined yet is the lode and it does have to be removed by force either with mining with axes and other tools, chemicals or with explosives that work to dislodge the lode and allow for collection. This dislodging creates what we refer to as placer gold.

A great way to look at it is to look at an example. During the gold rush in California gold was being mined left and right. Miners were chipping away at gold deposits and exploding them creating not only the gold nuggets that everyone was looking for, but also depositing small amounts of gold into water sources that would then be carried off to be found later.

Placer gold is gold that is found at a secondary location, or gold that is not found with the lode or in the actual crust of the Earth. Placer gold is easier to collect, it can be found with panning and other minimally physically demanding processes, and it is often very small and does require more to be valuable.

Placer gold is almost always found along rivers, creeks and other sources of moving water as it is these water sources that work to move the gold away from the initial deposit. Placer gold is what you are looking for when you are panning a stream or looking in locations other than mines deep in the ground.

Here is a video about placer gold and where to find it.

Is Placer Gold Valuable?

All gold is valuable because we as humans place value on it. If we were to collectively decide as a society that gold was no longer valuable, even the largest gold nugget would be worthless.

As such, even placer gold, no matter how minute it is, does have intrinsic value. Though we stated that placer gold is often very small and can even be trace amounts, there can also be placer gold that is larger and even nuggets that can get carried down stream from their initial deposit.

Placer gold does have value, if you want it to be worth more, you just have to find a large amount of it. Gold is considered a currency, even those pieces that are not refined down into gold bars or coins.

As such, the value of the gold does fluctuate every year and even daily in some cases.

Gold price by GoldBroker.com


Here is an interesting video about how gold prices are determined.

How is Gold Value Determined?

How is Gold Value Determined
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In order to know just how much that ring that you have at the back of your jewelry box is worth or that gold bar your grandpa left you, there are a few different factors to consider.

Gold is a rather soft metal, soft and metal are two words that we normally do not think of with one another but it is relative. Gold is softer, that means in order for it to be used as coins or jewelry, it does have to be mixed with other metals to create alloys that can be used and that will not deform or be crushed with daily use.

This means that when gold is mixed with other metals, a new purity of gold is created and that does affect the price or the value of that particular piece of gold. This creates the purity standard for pricing things like gold jewelry.

Gold jewelry is often classed by karat, this means how much gold is in that piece as opposed to other metals that it might be mixed with. Most jewelry that is sold today is made of 14K gold, this means that 14 parts out of 24 are gold, or just a little over half.

Pure gold is referred to as 24K gold, which means that 24 out of 24 parts are gold. This 24 is used with all gold ratios. There is 18K gold, 20K, 22K and so on until you get to pure gold.

The less gold that is in a piece, the more durable it is going to be but also less valuable in terms of gold purity. Factors like the weight of the gold, how much there is and the average price for gold at the time that you are looking for your valuation.

How to Find Placer Gold

How to Find Placer Gold
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If you are looking to find out where you can find some placer gold all your own, the best place to look are professional panning sites that have the equipment that you need and the knowledge of where the gold may be.

Though it is possible that the stream running through the back of your property could have gold in it, it is not plausible unless there has been gold found near where you live.

Panning sites are often near mines, in areas where gold has been found previously, and they do have the equipment and the know how that you need to find some gold and have a great time doing it.

Many state parks and touristy areas have mining or panning places where you can pan for your own gold and possibly even find some. In the United States the areas that you are most likely to find gold are California and states out west of in Alaska.

When you do go out to look for gold the key is to remember that finding gold just lying on the ground is not common.

Those stories you hear of a kid reaching down at the beach and finding a huge nugget are few and far between. Panning as a hobby is fun but you should not go out each time expecting to find a ton of gold and hit it rich.


Placer gold does hold value. While larger nuggets are going to be worth more, placer gold is still gold and when it is all collected it can be melted down to form one mass.

Gold is a finite resource, the Earth is not making any more of it. That is why all gold has value and why placer gold, even in minute amounts, is still worth some money and just plain fun to find.

Gold is something that we will place value on likely until the end of time and that is a fantastic natural resource that the Earth has given us.

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