Rare Welsh Gold

Apr 16, 2015 by

Gold is a beautiful, valuable element, and rare Welsh gold is the most precious Celtic metal of all. 

Highly sought after because of its scarcity, Welsh gold is found in only two areas of Wales: in south Wales near the River Cothi and in north Wales, in a narrow band stretching from Barmouth towards Snowdonia.

Rare_Welsh_Gold_nugget

Rare Welsh gold nugget at the National Museum of Wales. Image by J.C. Mason

Ancient Welsh princes wore great torcs of gold, possibly from Wales. The British Royal family has continued the tradition of wearing rare Welsh gold.  In 1911, Prince Edward I was invested as Prince of Wales, using regalia such as a coronet, rod, and ring incorporating pure Welsh gold. Prince Charles used the same regalia at his investiture in 1969. 

In 1923, the Queen Mother ( Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon) used a nugget of rare Welsh gold to fashion the ring for her wedding to the future King George VI. Welsh gold was also used in the wedding rings of Queen Elizabeth II, Diana, Princess of Wales, Princess Anne, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and most recently, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

 

rare Welsh gold wedding band for kate Middleton

Kate Middleton’s wedding band is made from rare Welsh gold. Image source

Kate’s gorgeous gold band–somewhat overshadowed by her blue sapphire engagement ring– was created by Wartski, a jewelry company founded in 1865 in North Wales. Wartski has been commissioned by the Queen and other royals to create several rings from rare Welsh gold.

One of the oldest of Wale’s gold mines is the Dolaucothi Gold mine in Carmarthenshire, Wales.  Dolaucothi was established by the Romans more than 2000 years ago, and continued to produce gold until 1938. In 1941, the mine was donated to the National Trust, which now runs guided tours through the old mines.

The Gwynfynydd Gold Mine in Dolgellau operated from 1860 to 1998. Queen Elizabeth II was presented with a large gold ingot from this mine on her 60th birthday. The mine’s owners used to give guided tours and allow visitors to pan for gold; the Gwynfynydd mine was closed to the public, however, because of potential liability and pollution regulations.

rare welsh gold from clogau mine

Rock containing rare Welsh gold from the Clogau mine. Image source.

One of the most well known Welsh mines is Clogau (pronounced Clog-eye), also called the Clogau St David’s mine in the Dolgellau gold mining area. Located in Bontddu (bont-thee), in north west Wales, Clogau was the largest and most productive gold mine in the Snowdonia area between 1862 and 1911.  The officially recorded output between 1862 and 1911 was 165,031 tons of gold ore from which 78,507 ounces of gold was extracted.

rare Welsh gold dragon brooch

Clogau Welsh dragon brooch containing rare Welsh gold. Image source.

The Clogau mine was re-opened in 1989 by the founder of jewelry company Clogau Gold of Wales, Ltd, but reclosed in 1998.  Clogau Gold continues to produce beautiful gold and rose gold jewelry with Welsh and Celtic motifs, although the pieces only contain “ a touch of rare Welsh gold extracted from the Clogau St. David’s Gold Mine.Welsh gold is chemically similar to other gold, but its scarcity means Clogau and other jewelry makers are forced to use only a scant amount of Welsh gold or else risk depleting all supplies. Clogau says it keep records of all rare Welsh gold used in its jewelry and marks each with a dragon hallmark and authenticity certificate. True Welsh gold is not a rose gold ( an alloy of gold and copper), but rather the typical yellow of any other pure gold.

rare Welsh gold clogau

Nuggets of rare Welsh gold from a recent exploration in the Clogau area. Image source

 

There are no active gold mines in Wales today, making rare Welsh gold one of the most expensive and sought after metals on the planet. In fact, the total world supply of Welsh gold is thought to be small enough to fit in an overnight bag. More valuable than platinum, Welsh gold sells for more than three times the official bullion price in London.

If you are interested in owning a small piece of rare Welsh gold, make sure to do your homework before you purchase anything. Check out a company’s proof of authenticity for its gold pieces, and try to find out what constitutes a ‘touch’ of Welsh gold.  Consider auctions when sourcing pieces–you might get lucky and find a truly unique piece of Welsh gold jewelry.

Most importantly, remember– not all that glitters is truly rare Welsh gold.

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