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Gallery: Jewellery made with sold gold nuggets

Gallery: Jewellery made with sold gold nuggets

Past meets present, gold meets diamonds and pearls, in the glittering commemorative Smales Gold Heritage Collection.

Gold in Western Australia

Western Australia’s gold rushes of the 1890s changed the face of the state forever. While the small European settlement here once struggled to survive, the discovery of this element – and lots of it – drew entrepreneurs and fortune-seekers from around the world. Towns were built, shops were erected, and Western Australia began to boom.

The nuggets unveiled here to this day are among the finest you’ll find in the world, and are particularly pretty when paired with other West Australian riches, including pink Kimberley diamonds, boulder opals and deep-sea pearls.

Combining gold with stones to create one-of-a-kind jewellery

West Australian-based Smales has been uniting these bounties since 1937, when founder Ron Smales Snr opened Kalgoorlie’s – the heart of the goldfields’ – first watch and jewellery emporium. It was initially dedicated to repairs, then branched out into crafting covetable gold-nugget pieces. Everything was, and still is, made by hand. When you buy a ring or a bracelet or earrings, you’re the only person in the world with anything like it.

1. Nugget and Diamond Four Point Pendant $2,600. 2. Caged Nugget and Keshi Pearl Bracelet $3,750. 4. Hannan Gold Nugget and Keshi Pearl Tiara $5,900

Unique materials and craftsmanship

Adding to the individuality of each item of jewellery is the fact that no two natural gold nuggets are ever alike – eroding from quartz, natural nuggets break off with their own distinct characteristics, discovered by miners in all manner of sizes, from one centimetre in diameter to six, and ranging from 18 to 23 karats. The larger the nugget, the more rare and valuable it is, with experts now placing one-ounce nuggets in the same value category as a five-carat diamond. This distinctive DNA gives each piece of Smales jewellery a bespoke appeal.

Yellow Gold Nugget and Pearl Pendant Three Stone 9 Gram
Yellow Gold Nugget and Pearl Pendant Three Stone 9 Gram $3,650

Natural gold nuggets

Not all nuggets are, however, created equal. In fact, many people ‘make’ them, by melting gold flakes and casting them together. Natural gold nuggets retain the original form in which they’re found, with each a unique shape and also composition – some have other mineral content as well, including silver and gold, telling an individual story of place and provenance.

Jewellers then transform them into wearable pieces of art, adding them to gold rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces, and embellishing with rare Argyle pink diamonds, perhaps, or distinctive opals and glossy pearls.

This article originally appeared in volume 37 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.