Natural West Coast Gold Nuggets
Sculpted by Nature, hand-crafted to wear by Kira Birchfield
The beauty and uniqueness of nuggets crafted by mother nature; hardened by years of weathering (like a blacksmith’s hammer on steel).
The West Coast gold nuggets I use are mined from a local, family-owned alluvial goldmine. The mine owners’ respect for The Coast and its environment, and New Zealand’s robust mining laws mean that their practices are alongside the most ethical of mining operations, anywhere in the world.
The nuggets that come from this area have a very high gold purity. The “Fine Gold” content of each nugget is usually within 94% to 96 % of the total composition, which makes them amongst the purest sources of raw gold and therefore very desirable.
In their pure state, the untouched nuggets are hard and quite durable. Jewellers and metallurgists refer to this as being “Work Hardened”
This comes about from the natural process and hard work the Earth has done for us, pounding them over and over in their journey over possibly thousands of years from their source and down our wild rivers and mighty glaciers.
“I avoid heating nuggets where possible as this re-aligns the molecules and makes the gold soft again undoing the work of ages”
As soon as the nugget is heated past a certain temperature a process called “annealing” occurs that returns the molecular structure back to its original, rested state. This makes the nugget soft again, and not so durable! However, all high-purity gold is less durable than normal commercial gold jewellery of low purity making nugget jewellery well suited to pendant and earring styles where they are less exposed than ring styles
West Coast Gold nuggets naturally occur in a huge range of shapes and sizes. Each nugget is different with its own character and no two are the same. I find great joy in hand-selecting the different shapes and sizes.
“Some nuggets almost tell what they are meant to be”
The power of the West Coast landscape is reflected in each stone and nugget, and this drives me to design each piece to be worthy of the journey it has made to get here.
Natural gold nugget sources are rarer than diamonds
Gold in its natural form isn’t shiny or polished.
“The gold nuggets I select are truly a small and rare slice of New Zealand”