It weighs 217.78 grams and is the size of a golf ball—and scientists are calling it the largest single-crystal piece of gold ever found.
The New Mexico–based Los Alamos National Laboratory, which studied and announced the find, estimates the piece’s value is $10,000—but given how big it is, it could fetch as much as $1.5 million.
But spokeswoman Nancy Ambrosiano adds, “Obviously that is not our area of expertise.”
The lab said it doesn’t know about the history of the object, which at first “seemed almost too perfect and too big to be real.” It received the object from an Ohio scientist, who said a U.S. collector had it for decades, and it was found in Venezuela. The unidentified collector had four gold objects that he gave to the lab to study, but only three turned out to be single crystal.
“It had apparently been a matter of curiosity for some time as to whether it was a single crystal or not,” says Ambrosiano. “But they needed to find the right tools to nondestructively evaluate it.”
She says that as far as she knows, the crystal is now either back with the collector, or the Ohio scientist he originally brought it to.
“It is the sort of thing that is scientifically fascinating,” she says.