Lapland’s goldfields are mainly located in the areas of the Lemmenjoki and Ivalojoki rivers. The best places to find gold are usually in rivers and streams, where the gold -being heavier than other material- accumulates on the bed of the river or stream. The biggest known gold nugget to be found in Lapland weighed 392.9 grams. This large nugget was found by Eevert Kiviniemi in the Luttojoki River in 1935.
Gold commonly occurs as finely grained gold dust – as so-called “spiritless” specks with gold purity surpassing even 95%. In nature, gold is combined with other metals such as silver, platinum, copper and iron. Gold prospectors have given the nuggets names depicting their size: spec, flake, picker, medium and large nuggets. Each gold nugget is uniquely formed by nature; no two nuggets are the same.
Gold is also industrially excavated in Lapland. Europe’s biggest gold mine is located in Kittilä. Gold enriched from gold ore cannot be directly used for making jewellery, as it is sent to metal refineries for further refinement.
Fine gold is very soft yet enduring. In order to make the gold more durable to use as jewellery, it is alloyed by mixing it with copper and silver to produce the normally used 585 ‰ (14 carat) or 750 ‰ (18 carat) gold. The ratio of silver and copper determines the shade of the gold. The soft nugget gold becomes shiny with use. However, gold is very durable, so none is actually lost; it merely shifts filling the small holes on the surface. The natural surface of a nugget cannot be restored to its original state after years of use.
The best way to clean a nugget is to wash it with a soft toothbrush in warm water with dishwashing liquid. Goldsmiths and well-furbished jewellers use professional cleaning equipment and chemicals to remove the impurities that lodge in the tiny cavities and pores of the nugget, thus intensifying its beautiful natural colour.