David J. Conner grew up in the jewelry business and is an expert on gold. David’s grandfather founded the family’s fourth-generation watch and jewelry company in the 1930’s. By the time David’s father took over Orocal in 1965, the family employed 28 watchmakers and was expanding into other specialties, including jewelry made from gold quartz, a rare stone found in Alaska that the family understands better than anyone else.
What is gold quartz?
Gold-bearing quartz, or "gold lod,” is quartz stone with naturally embedded gold veins. Gold-bearing quartz comes in many colors, such as yellow, rose, purple, grey, and black, but the most rare and valuable color is white because the contrast with the gold is the most pronounced. White gold-bearing quartz is considered gem quality or jewelry grade. Many first time visitors to Alaska have never seen gold quartz before, not only due to its rarity, but because not many jewelers know how to work with the stone.
How is gold bearing quartz formed?
Hundreds of millions of years ago intense heat melted the gold and the quartz by hydrothermal pressure into liquid lava streams up to 3,000 feet below the earth’s surface. As the lava streams cooled, seismic activity crushed and welded the gold into the quartz. Gold remaining in the quartz deposits is called gold bearing quartz or gold quartz for short.
Erosion eventually exposed the beautiful veins of gold in the quartz. Pieces that had high-concentrations of gold sometimes separated from the quartz altogether. This gold washed into rivers and streams and tumbled and bounced in the rushing water against rocks and sediment, eventually forming gold nuggets (that’s why you can see tiny quartz remnants in some nuggets.)
Where is it found?
Gold bearing quartz is found in underground hard rock mines in the same areas where gold nuggets are found. In Alaska, it was first discovered in 1880 in the town of Juneau. Regions of Canada, California, the Western United States and Australia are also known for gold bearing quartz.
"When erosion takes place it makes gold into flakes, so anywhere you find gold you can find gold quartz. Alaska, British Columbia, California, and Australia are the only places known where gem quality can be found.” – David J. Conner
Like other precious gemstones, natural gold quartz comes in different grades.
Gem quality quartz rock is cut into slabs to expose the veins. These slabs are then hand-cut and polished into smooth, beautiful, and unique gemstones. Since the gold is naturally deposited into the quartz randomly, each piece is one-of-a-kind.
Such jewelry is rare, because mining locations are kept secret. In fact, it took generations for David and his family to become so trusted by the miners that they could continue to source and deliver the highest quality gold bearing quartz on the market.
Beware of imitation "glacier gold" or fake gold quartz
Because the authentic mineral is very rare and hard to mine some manufacturers will use a lab created imitation that resembles the natural stone. Don't be fooled! While some actually use real gold and infuse it into quartz, known as man-made gold quartz, others only use gold leaf paper and mix it into a white resin. This process has very little value.
So if you desire a natural stone, always ask for a Certificate of Authenticity when purchasing gold nuggets or gold quartz jewelry. Orocal is well-known for having high quality authentic gold quartz with spectacular patterns of gold. Orocal is guaranteed to be authentic and offers you 110% of your money back if they were not. They have been PROUDLY making Alaskan style jewelry in the USA for over 50 years.
Orocal Natural Gold Company specializes in gold found in its genuine form. Since 1965 Orocal has been a leading source of authentic, high-quality gold nugget and gold-bearing quartz jewelry. Because gold quartz is difficult to acquire, many jewelers carry low quality or craft imitations. Orocal’s pieces, however, come with a Certificate of Authenticity.
These pieces can be spectacular additions to your collection, symbols of the last frontier and the great Klondike gold rush of 1898!