Welsh gold is considered by some to be the most exclusive gold in the world. It is found in two distinct areas of Wales. One area is in the north in a band stretching from Barmouth, past Dolgellau and up towards Snowdonia. In the south it is found in a small area in the valley of the River Cothi at Dolaucothi where it is known to have been mined by the Romans. Jewellery such as torcs were worn by early Welsh princes, but it is not possible to confirm that this was Welsh gold since there were strong trade links between Wales and Ireland at the time and Ireland was a major producer of gold artefacts.
Pure Welsh gold forms in seams or lodes, like coal, and is known to yield up to 30 troy ounces per long ton (920 g/Mg). In comparison, South African gold, which is mixed in with the rock, yields just a quarter of a troy ounce for every tonne mined (8 g/Mg). However the South African gold fields are vastly more extensive. Welsh gold, when extracted, often has a reddish tint in comparison to gold extracted elsewhere. This is due to the fact that the gold is stained by copper which lies in the rock next to the veins of gold. During refining, the gold is purified to its natural state which is the more common "yellow".
The most prolific Welsh Gold mine was the Dolaucothi Gold Mines near Pumsaint, which 'opened' in the Bronze Age and closed in 1938, and was donated to the National Trust in 1941. The Gwynfynydd Gold Mine in Dolgellau closed in the late 1990s. In January 2007, the BBC and other news organisations reported that the final traces of 'economically extractable' gold had been removed from the mines and surrounding spoil. Even the local road surface had been filtered for traces, marking the end of the current mining operation. The Dolaucothi mine is open to the public under the aegis of the National Trust.
The royal patronage of jewellery formed out of Welsh gold still continues today. Her Majesty The Queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Her Highness Princess Margaret, HRH The Prince of Wales, Diana Princess of Wales and HRH Camilla The Duchess of Cornwall all wore/wear wedding rings fashioned from Welsh gold. Her Majesty The Queen was presented with a kilo of Welsh gold on her 60th birthday (April 1986) and following reports in January 2007 of the end of commercial supply, Welsh boxer Joe Calzaghe expressed an interest in having a commemorative WBO belt made from the gold. Due to its rarity, and perhaps the royal patronage, Welsh gold is usually more expensive to buy on the high street and is often sold in diluted form (10% Welsh gold).