Gemstone hunting! One of my absolute favorite pastimes and one that led to the writing of The Gemstone Chronicles. I have talked about it in previous posts and even posted some pictures from the trips. Today, though, I want to walk you through the steps I go through when I pursue this hobby of mine! Yes, my gemstone hunting secrets revealed!
All of the pictures were taken by me on Sunday, March 15 at my favorite spot, Gold n’ Gem Grubbin’ in Cleveland, GA. If you have read any of my previous posts on this topic, you already know some of this, but let me summarize for new readers. Gold n’ Gem Grubbin’ is part of a commercial gold mine in the North Georgia Mountains. The property was part of the Loud Mine and continues to produce gold today.
For gold prospectors and gem enthusiasts, it is a great place to go for a fun (and sometimes profitable) visit. The site offers buckets and a covered sluice for sifting through the dirt to uncover treasures. They also offer mining at the creek – which is my favorite part. Gold n’ Gem Grubbin’ puts dirt dug from the mine pit next to the creek that runs through the property. Diggers can then fill buckets with dirt from the pile, take it to the creek, and sift through it. Whatever you find, you get to take home!
When we arrived (we being my brother John, his daughter Simone, and me) on Sunday morning, we had a fresh pile of dirt to dig through. However, it was wet and heavy dirt from recent rains, and it made for some heavy buckets!
Our process is to fill 5 gallon buckets with dirt from the pile and lug the buckets down to the creek. Trust me when I say that after 4 hours of toting buckets of dirt, you will be pretty tired! Here are my 4 buckets ready to be screened.
I like to stack my screening boxes on top of one of the buckets and fill from another bucket. Why? Because I can let the dirt sift through the screens and sift out larger rocks. This way, by the time I get to the last bucket, I have some sifted dirt I can put into my sluice box. More on that in a minute. First, I wanted to show how the boxes look when full of dirt and placed in the creek to begin the washing process.
I try to let the creek do most of the work in the process. I tilt the boxes up on each other to get good water flow through the dirt. Most of the dirt simply washes away and leaves a box full of rocks. In the box below, I found a pretty sizable ruby. It’s always a bonus to find something so easily!
As I mentioned above, I like to work through all the buckets and then dump the sifted dirt into my sluice box. It isn’t necessary to sift it first, but with the sluice box, it makes it easier to run dirt through. Below is a picture of the sluice box in the creek. If there is any gold in the dirt, it will either catch on the black mat or get caught in the green carpet.
Once the dirt is run through the sluice, I rinse the carpet off in a bucket and then dump the contents of the bucket into my gold pan. I didn’t find any gold on this day, but I have found a few flakes before. It’s a bonus when you find the gold!
So, what did I find during my first gemstone hunting trip of the year? I found a few nice rocks, but the take wasn’t as good as some trips. Nevertheless, any day of gemstone hunting is a great day! Here are the results. The first picture is some of the gemstones I found.
From the upper left moving clockwise, we have rubies, garnets, quartz, citrine, and aventurine. Remember the ruby in the picture above, well, here is another view. The scale is set for grams, so doing the conversion, the stone is about 35 carats. Unfortunately, I don’t think this one would be a candidate for faceting, so it isn’t worth much. I still like it, though.
There you have the process we use to hunt for gemstones. I did find a smaller ruby (about 20 carats) that I plan on sending to my gem cutter to see if it is a good stone. When a stone is cut, you lose about 75% in the cutting process, but, if the stone is a good one, I could end up with a 5 carat ruby. Not bad for $15 visit!
What do you think about our process? It really isn’t secret, but it is tons of fun! Any suggestions on making it more efficient? If you hunt gemstones, what do you do and where do you go? Leave me a comment and let me know!
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