South American Gold

Table of Contents

South American gold is held to a high standard; it doesn’t tarnish or rust and comes in a bright golden, yellow color – a hallmark of its quality. South American gold is usually 18 karat and stamped as such with a “750” or “18k”.

Jewels and gold coins over dark background
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South American Coins

South American gold and silver coins are considered valuable to collectors. They come from all over the continent, from Argentina to Uruguay in a variety of denominations. Here is a list:

Bolivian Coins:

  • Bolivia silver 8 Reales 
  • Bolivia silver Cob

Chile Coins:

  • Chile gold 100 Pesos

Columbian Coins:

  • Colombia gold 5 peso, Simon Bolivar
  • Colombia gold 1500 pesos 

Argentinian Coins:

  • Argentina gold 5 Peso

Brazilian Coins:

  • Brazil gold 20,000 Reis

Uruguay Coins:

  • Uruguay gold 5 Pesos

Peruvian Gold

  • Peru gold 1 libra


Further down we will discuss ancient influences on South American gold jewelry and the popular jewelry trends of modern times. In addition to gold jewelry, South American gold coins are popular with collectors and are also incorporated in ancient and modern jewelry design. Popular coins come from nearly the entire continent, including: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Suriname and French Guiana.


From the 1500’s to 1700’s Europe got most of its gold and silver from mines in South America. In modern day only a small portion of the world’s gold production comes from the South American region. Brazil is in charge of most of South America’s output, though former hotspots like Minas Gerais, Goias and Mato Grosso are now less important because of gold findings in the Amazon basin (we will discuss more of the Amazon’s role in South American gold production further down). 

The Inca

When we speak about gold in South American we are talking about countries like Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru – each with long, rich histories in gold dating back to the Inca. The Inca used gold to create ornate jewelry and for designing opulent palaces and religious temples. Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor is said to have offered his Spanish capturers an entire room of gold (and two of silver) to secure his release. Atahualpa was later executed by the Spanish in July of 1533.

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What parts of South America does South American gold come from?

The Amazon rainforest is rich in gold reserves. A decade ago an influx of migrants sought to get rich on high gold prices and advanced into the Amazon, building sprawling mine camps that contributed to deforestation and pollution. The search for gold centered around the Madre de Dios river, shared by Bolivia and Peru. Foreign mining companies attempted to get in on the action too. Mining is still done in the Amazon but Brazil now outpaces Peru and Bolivia in gold production. 

Other precious metals found in South America: 

  • Silver is mined in the Andes mountains regions of Bolivia and Peru.
  • Brazil and other regions in South America are known for their precious gemstone production.
  • Colombia’s emerald reserves are world class.
  • Platinum is mined in Colombia and Peru.

How many karats are in South American gold?

In South America, 18 karat gold is the norm. 18 karat gold is measured as 18 parts pure gold and 6 parts of another base metal, which can include copper, zinc, platinum, palladium or silver; these metals give the gold strength and longevity. As we discussed before, South America has a mid to high standard when it comes to gold coins and jewelry.

How to tell it it’s South American gold or not

South American gold is generally going to be 18 karat and should be marked as such – you should see an “18k” or “750” stamped somewhere on the item.

South America is known for producing gold coins and gold jewelry that has influence in the ancient Incas, a civilization that spanned the country’s pacific coast and Andean highlands until 1532.

Common types of South American gold jewelry

The Incas and other Meso-American indigenous tribes have influenced a great deal of South American gold jewelry design. Other ancient communities that influenced South American gold techniques include the Chavin, Moche and Nazca – artifacts were unearthed from these tribes, immortalizing their contributions to South American gold jewelry design. Additionally, influence comes from Spanish and European tradition and heritage as well as the catholic religion. 


Perhaps the greatest influence is the Inca. The ancient Inca incorporated gold metalwork in much of their jewelry production. Inca wore heavy gold earrings, stretching their earlobes to the shoulder. They also wore gold necklaces, nose rings, crowns and bangles. Incas believed that gold was a sign of their relationship with god – the more gold jewelry, the closer to god. 

Modern examples of South American gold jewelry 

  • Rosary – traditional Catholic prayer beads made into a necklace, usually with 14 karat or 18 karat gold. 
  • Chunky gold wrist bracelets and ankle bracelets; thick gold chain necklaces. 
  • Nods to Andean culture – llamas are especially popular right now. 
  • Religious pendants that incorporate the Virgin of Guadalupe, Jesus, Mary and other figures.
  • Classic gold crucifix and crosses.
  • Green emerald stones used in wedding rings – especially in Colombia, a world producer of emeralds. 
  • Gold coin medallion necklaces and charm bracelets. 

Can you sell South American gold in the United States?

Yes. You can sell your South American gold items in the US. 

Because South American gold is generally 18 karat, it would be considered high grade and therefore valuable to buyers. Your South American gold piece should be stamped with an “18k” or “750”. It is important to make sure that the dealer you are dealing with can test for 18 karat gold. And also, beware of unscrupulous buyers who may attempt to devalue your product and give you a 10 karat, 12 karat or 14 karat price for an 18 karat item. 

Can you buy South American gold jewelry?

Yes. South American gold jewelry can be found by doing a simple search online or by traveling to South America in person. Whether you want to accessorize with a plain gold pendant or add diamonds, precious gemstones and charms, South American gold jewelry can be a great addition to your jewelry collection. Additionally, South American gold coins are valuable collector’s items.

Choose Crown Gold Exchange

Why choose us? Let me tell you. Crown Gold Exchange holds the utmost respect for you and your valuables. When you visit one of our locations, we make sure that you feel welcome, and that your property is protected. We use industry-standard equipment to ensure accurate measurement of your valuables, and we have a special process to keep your valuables safe. Our accuracy enables us to offer you top dollar, and we have several different payment methods available for your convenience, so you won’t be waiting around to get paid.

Crown Gold Exchange will purchase any kind of gold you bring us, including 8-karat, 10-karat, 14-karat, 18-karat, 21-karat, 22-karat, 24-karat, or anything else. We buy gold bars, gold bullion, gold jewelry and some gold plated items like pocket watches. If you happen to be in possession of an exclusive piece made by a top gold designer such as Cartier, Tiffany, Rolex, or Patek Philippe, we will often pay more than the weight of the item. Such special pieces often command a higher price on the secondary market due to their superior craftsmanship

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