How Bering Sea Gold's Purity Stacks Up to Other Alaskan Gold

How Bering Sea Gold's Purity Stacks Up to Other Alaskan Gold

Monica Monica
6 minute read

Why do the miners on Bering Sea Gold seem so desperate to get that sweet yellow stuff? Is it because they’re largely unemployable in any normal business? Well, yes. But also because of a secret the folks in Nome don’t want everyone to know:

Gold from the beaches and sea floor of the Bering Sea is some of the purest in Alaska and the US as a whole - one of the few placer deposits that consistently averages a purity above 91.67%, or 22K!

A quick explainer on gold purity

When asked what gold purity is, Dr. Erik Melchiorre, Professor of Geology and an expert on placer mining at California State University - San Bernardino, explained, “First, let's define the difference between gold and ‘gold’. Gold is the pure metal but since no nuggets are pure, ‘gold’ is actually an alloy of gold, silver, and/or copper with gold being the majority metal.”

Gold Purity by color

In other words, gold purity is the amount of actual gold found in all its various forms, from fine gold all the way to giant nuggets. The purest gold in the world is 99.99999% pure. Currently, there isn’t a viable method to produce 100% pure gold due to the fact that it would cost more than the gold’s value to remove those impurities on a molecular level. 

The best known methods for defining the purity of gold is by Karat and Fineness. 

Often when people hear the term “karat” they normally think of gemstones. Carat (with a C) is used to measure the weight of precious stones like diamonds, emeralds and rubies. However Karat (with a K)  is used when referring to gold. It is the amount of gold alloy out of 24 parts. Meaning 22k gold is 92% pure gold with 8% being a combination of other alloys or impurities mixed into the gold, such as silver and copper. 

The fineness of gold represents the weight of gold, in proportion to the total weight which includes any other base metals and impurities, in parts per 1000. 

Bering Sea Gold Purity

Placer gold is the stuff you want

Lode Gold is gold that is found in veins in rocks. This is the type of gold that most inland commercial mines are after these days. There are various types of Lode Gold deposits that require specialized methods to extract and mine but at its simplest form, Lode Gold is the veins of gold found in rocks that are the source of Placer Gold.

Placer Gold, the type that Bering Sea dredges mine, is gold that has eroded or broken off from the main gold vein and traveled down mountains, in waterways, with the heavy gold settling on the bottom of streams, lakes, rivers or the sea floor. This is the type of gold most miners are familiar with, the gold dust, flakes and nuggets found most commonly in rivers and streams.

Find placer gold deposits

As it travels impurities and corrosive metals such as copper, quartz or silver are eroded away, leaving the outside mostly all gold. Erosion from the elements strips away most surface impurities, making placer gold much purer than lode gold on average. 

However, due to the soft nature of gold, other impurities can be worked into the gold under the surface area. This is why there are no 100% pure gold nuggets. 

Dude, gold from the Bering Sea is some of the purest in Alaska, and the whole country

Overall, placer gold purity in any specific area can be a tricky thing to pin down as it can change in a fairly small area. You might be mining 90% - 92% pure gold but move 50 feet in a different direction and the purity can drop down to 80% - 85%. This is usually because the placer gold has come from different lode sources and traveled into the same water source, like the Bering Sea. 

A 1981 report by the University of Alaska Fairbanks examined gold from 550 separate creeks all over the state that produced >100 ounces of gold between 1900 and 1974 and came to a surprising conclusion: the Seward Peninsula region, which has 9 mining districts including the Nome District, has a mean fineness of 908, the highest out of all the regions in Alaska. 


The Nome District as a whole has a mean fineness of 908 with the beach and sea floor off the beach having a mean fineness of 918, proving that Bering Sea Gold is some of the purest around, averaging over 22 karats!

If you acquired some placer gold from somewhere else in Alaska, say Utopia Creek in the Koyukuk region, your placer gold would only have a fineness of 734, or a 73.4% purity that puts it between 16k and 18k.

In fact most US placer gold is commonly cited as being between 70-85% pure, and can go as low as 60% purity.

Do you know the purity of your placer?

Let me ask you a tough question - do you know the purity of your placer?

If you love to pan paydirt or invest in natural gold, you may think you’re getting a good deal, but you might be paying a secret tax - a big one - in impurities. There’s just no way to know unless you know where your gold comes from.

Just like the USDA says Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food we like to say Know Your Miner, Know Your Gold.

All of our gold at Bering Sea Paydirt comes straight from the Bering Sea. You can even watch us mine it on Bering Sea Gold on Discovery Channel. 

 You can buy Bering Sea gold in two ways: 

  1. Buy Eroica Paydirt - pan it yourself - and get a chance to win 1 troy ounce of some of the purest natural placer gold around!
  2. Buy Bering Sea gold by the gram - skip the panning and know exactly how much you’re getting!

Eroica Paydirt

Eroica Paydirt


More than 1.5 grams of gold in every bag - guaranteed! The gold in each bag is straight from The Eroica's sluice box, dredged out of the Bering Sea by Emily and her crew as seen on Bering Sea Gold! Plus each… read more

Bering Sea Gold-by-the-Gram

Bering Sea Gold-by-the-Gram


Now you can buy real gold from the Bering Sea! Natural placer gold from the Bering Sea is often only available for sale to locals in Nome.  Experience a taste of the hardship and the rewards of diving for gold… read more

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