Raffi Stepanian of Queens, New York, has brought urban prospecting into the public awareness by his unorthodox methods and his particularly lucrative diamond district location. He has made some significant finds that garnered the attention of the media late in 2011. Urban mining the crevasses and gutters of the diamond district of NYC, he has recovered scrap gold, semi-precious gemstones, and even some diamond chips.
Raffi’s success is commendable. However, if you are considering following in his footsteps, you need to examine his methods and see how they can be modified to fit your particular area.
If you are prospecting on a shoestring budget, the tools you need are simple, cheap, and easy to maintain and use – not much more than a putty knife, a bottle to collect the materials, and a basin to wash the recovered slurry that may yield treasure. If you have some money to invest in your business, there are a number of high-tech aids that can vastly improve your chances of success. Good tools will pay for themselves in short order.
Follow the Gold
You know your city and all cities are different. You could find treasure in the most unexpected places. In any case, gold and other precious metals are going to be located in the areas of high foot traffic and especially in areas near jewelry shops that specialize in making or repairing gold items at the premises. Gold particles cling to clothing and drop off in the process of moving.
Sidewalks and gutters that have crevasses that trap debris form natural sluices. Metals are heavier than sand or silt and work themselves down through the lighter materials until they are at the bottom and generally well-covered. Be especially careful when using your hands, especially in urban areas. Broken needles, bits of sharp metal, and other sharp objects can cut you. Use small trowels, dental picks, and flexible metal blades – such as a trowel-shaped painting knife or a palette (also seen spelled “pallat”) knife – to tease out the heavy bits trapped in cracks. A wonderful variety of shapes and sizes of quality wooden-handled palette knives are available online for $50 or less.
Gold is rarely at the top of sidewalk or gutter slurry unless it has just been deposited. Don’t waste your time and energy washing sand. You want to collect and process the thick black goo below the sand layers.