Facts and Figures

Gold Weights

When researching the past you must understand the language as it was used in the past, as language can change over time and can make our understanding become complicated.

Most people associated with gold prefer to talk in ounces, that is, Troy Ounces which are different to the ones you weigh your groceries with (although the pound weights used are the same in both cases) There being 12 ounces (ozs) in the gold pound and 16 in the avoirdupois (imperial) pound (the grocery one). The imperial pound is equal in troy to 7000 grains.

1 Troy oz. equals 31.103 grams.


When people in the industry talk gold talk, it is in Troy ounces.

When the old blokes Malcolm knew as a kid talked gold they often overrode the boundaries of different classifications to use phrases like “I got 55 dwts.” (penny weights) rather than saying two and three quarter ozs.


Classification is equivalent to
24 grains 1 penny weight (dwt).
480 grains 1 gold (troy) ounce
20 dwts (pennyweights, commonly call “weights”) 1 ounce (oz)
2.2 pounds (imperial, word pound shortened to “lbs.”) 1 kilogram
112 pounds (imperial) to the hundred weight 1 hundred weight (cwt)
3 cwt (hundred weight) 336lbs (pounds) or 152. kilograms


Both standards were used in conjunction with each other, eg. when they talked about the Beyer’s and Holtermann Specimen they referred to its total weight in Imperial by stating it was estimated in total to weigh 6 cwt., however its gold content was reported in Troy at 3,000. Not in gold pounds, but ounces.

There were formulas to work everything out. 80 dishes to the ton. If you multiplied the product from one gold pan by eighty you knew yield per ton. Mine buckets and trucks (kibbles and skips) were all ton or part ton rated, so too were tip drays etc.
mint goldOther guides were, an ordinary thimble full of alluvial shotty gold (gold about the size of grains of wheat) would weigh about 15 dwts or three quarters of an ounce.

For an alluvial digger (fossicker) there was a full table to work on your profit margin, e.g. 12 grains (about half a pennyweight) per gold pan washed would yield 2 ozs. 16 dwts. per cubic yard washed.

A summary of approximate distance conversions to assist the reader is as follows:

12 inches = 1 foot (also feet, abbreviated to ft.).
3 feet = 1 yard (multiple abbreviated to yds.).
1 mile = 1760 yds. or 1.609 kilometres.

For a rough guide. 30 cm. = about 1 foot
1 metre is a little more than 1 yard.
1 mile = about 1.5 kilometres.


Carats are a purity grade mostly used by gold diggers and jewellers. It is a rough guide as to how pure the gold is. There are 24 carats in pure gold or as pure as you can get because there is no such thing as pure gold. Therefore 12 carat gold refers to a metal that is composed of half gold. You can make any purity you want. The most popular is 18 carat meaning three quarters gold composition.
gold-bricksA mixture of silver and copper in the gold will highlight its colour. Too much silver will give a green tinge. Green is the opposite colour to gold on the colour spectrum and collectively large amounts of gold will give off a green aura. Too much copper will give a red tinge (rose gold) and the addition of even a little Nickel will overpower the colour of gold to silver, hence white gold is made.

In nature silver and copper are always mixed with gold. This will vary from goldfield to goldfield, therefore a 4 ozs nugget may have only 3 ozs of gold content. A fair guide to purity is colour. The Welcome Nugget, Welcome Stranger Nugget and The Beyer’s and Holtermann Specimen were all very pure pieces. The Welcome Nugget assayed at 23 carats and 992 fine.

Fineness is a purity scale used by bullion dealers some diggers and international traders. Fineness equals parts per thousand and different countries have different standards. England is 995 fine and Australia is 999 fine. In other words we guarantee our gold bullion to have been refined to 999 parts gold per thousand.

e.g. 999 fine = 24 carat = all gold, 750 fine = 18 carat = three quarters gold and 500 fine = 12 carat = half gold. Unfortunately the word carat also equals the weight of a gemstone, e.g. a one carat diamond stone equals a gemstone that weighs 200 milligrams.

Did You Know?
A cubic foot (30 cm.) block of gold is equivalent to 500 kilos or half a ton.

Brain Teaser
One cubic mile of sea water (yes your everyday drop in the ocean) contains 8,600 pounds of pure gold, 135 tons of silver, 108,000,000 tons of salt and a few fish.