Finding gold and silver jewelry in water

Gold in your scoop!

Twelve years ago,a neighbor introduced me to the hobby of metal detecting. Within weeks, I found Indian Head pennies, two silver dimes from 1876, and numerous artifacts that required trips to the Special Collections department at our local library to identify. I was hooked! Unfortunately, I discovered an allergy activated by digging dirt! That put an end to land detecting, so I switched to water. This resulted in finding many gold and silver rings and medals, in addition to a wide variety of coins dating back to 1862 and serendipitous finds such as silver thimbles and bullets.

With the value of precious metals still attractive, and cable tv shows such as "Diggers" increasing awareness, interest in this hobby is rising very fast. Clubs are in every state that will help new members learn. In an average season, by metal detecting part-time, only two or three nights per week, I have found between one and five thousand dollars worth of gold jewelry. (I also find silver and other valuables as well.) For a very patient person, this hobby can pay for their equipment in one season! There is enough treasure in the water to keep detectorists busy forever,because storms turn over sand and gravel, and new boaters and swimmers replenish the supply.

All you need is a waterproof metal detector, a "kick" scoop, and a pouch for your finds. Buy a good pair of nylon waders for colder water, and a wet suit (to prevent swimmer's itch) and wading boots. Use sunscreen. and go early or late in the day to avoid interfering with swimmers and waders. Start a search grid in a likely place. Use a waterproof GPS if you require precision, and "paint" the screen with your trail, or just eyeball it if you're not so picky. Be persistent. There will be a lot of trash targets to pick through. Stay with it, be patient, and eventually you will whoop with joy when the shine of jewelry appears in the bottom of your scoop!

Variety of Ring Finds

Sample Ring Varieties found: Gold, silver, collector, handmade, antique
Sample Ring Varieties found: Gold, silver, collector, handmade, antique | Source

The "Ring" Zone

This is the big secret: More than 90 percent of these rings were found in the "ring zone," or waist-deep water. This is where swimmers first dangle their fingers in the water, splash each other, and throw beach toys such as frisbees. Fingers shrink and become slippery when wet, especially in cold water!

That zone is most productive, though some rings are found next to shore, where parents played with young children or waves tossed them after a storm. It's important to know that plain wedding bands sink into sand until they reach equilibrium, while rings with large stones have more surface area, so are tossed around by wave action.

Many detectorists find it rewarding to return rings to their owners when they can be traced. So, if you're going to going to enter the "ring zone" wearing rings, make sure to have them engraved beforehand, or they just might end up in my jewelry case!

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