Calling all gold diggers: Did you read about the two lucky gold hunters who last month unearthed a pair of enormous gold nuggets in Australia—one of the world’s top gold panning destinations? If so, I wouldn’t be surprised to see you pulling on your boots right now for a trip out into the field to do some gold hunting of your own!
For those of you wondering where to try your luck, here are some of the world’s best places to go panning for gold.
In ‘The Land of the Free’, gold is found in nearly all states. It’s no surprise that California is top of the list, though. California was the location of the famous 19th century Gold Rush. The area to head for is Gold Country (also known as Motherlode Country), a region in Northern California that lies on the western side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Here, gold gathers in the placer deposits of the streams running from its slopes.
Bordering California, Nevada, Arizona and Oregon also provide rich pickings for gold hunters. Nevada and Arizona are desert states, so you’ll need to dry pan or use a metal detector for the best results. Alaska is rich in gold and, unlike in California, the rules here are very relaxed.
Wherever in the states your gold panning adventure takes you, you’ll find countless places offering equipment hire and gold panning lessons—far too many to list!
In the remote north-west of Canada, the Yukon River is definitely one of the world’s top gold panning destinations. Dawson City, which lies on the river, is the capital of that mountainous region, and has been a destination since the late Nineteenth Century. This is where the Klondike Gold Rush began in 1896, and gold mining still thrives here today. There are plenty of spots around Dawson City to try your hand at panning for gold. For those who wish to linger, there are even log cabins for a comfortable stay in the wild.
Australia is a land rich in gold, particularly Western Australia where 60% of the country’s gold is mined. The biggest gold producing area is Goldfields—the clue is in the name!
At Warrego, near Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, commercial goldmining ended in the 1980s, but there is still gold to be dry panned from the surface soil. This part of the country can be a challenge to tourists and care should be taken to follow official fossicking advice.
Another spot to consider is Clermont in Queensland. The site of a gold rush in 1861, Clermont still provides opportunities for visitors licensed to fossick. Panning may be wet or dry, depending on the season; but whatever the case, the Queensland government provides the visitor with plenty of advice and information on making a worthwhile visit.
In certain parts of New Zealand, visitors are free to try their luck at fossicking without the usual permits. The Tasman region, at the northern end of South Island, for example, was the site of New Zealand’s first gold rush in 1856. Here, the Department of Conservation has set aside a number of locations for low-tech amateur gold-prospecting. Whatever the yields, it’s a stunning place to visit.
The South Island’s West Coast also experienced a gold rush in the Nineteenth Century. It was there in Hokitika that New Zealand’s largest nugget was found, and today’s visitors can still dream. Not far away in Goldsborough all you need is a gold pan and some patience! Another option is the Otago region in the southern part of South Island.
For many centuries, the people of Japan have been looking for gold, but it’s fair to say that its resources have been underexploited. Things are changing, however, and today you can, in certain regions, join in the fun. The biggest mine in Japanese history was the Sado Kinzan mine on Sado Island. It is now a museum; as is the Toi Kinzan mine, where visitors can try their hand at panning for gold – and keeping what they find!
With the owner’s permission, you can have a lot of fun in the United Kingdom, especially the Celtic fringe. Scotland may make you think ‘whisky’, but gold in more solid form has been found for centuries in its multitude of rivers and streams. For half a millennium, Wanlockhead in Dumfries and Galloway has drawn gold hunters to its deposits. Once Covid restrictions have been lifted, beginners can take gold panning lessons at The Museum of Lead Mining.
In the highlands of Sutherland, The Suisgill Estate allows you to pay a small fee and pan for gold in two of its burns (streams). The Kildonan Burn flows through the Baile an Or, the site of the 1869 gold rush.
In Wales, the north is still yielding gold, while at the Dolaucothi Gold Mines in Carmarthenshire, first worked by the Romans, you can pan for gold under supervision. As for England, there is still gold lurking Cornwall the Pennines and the Lake District.
You can find more information about gold and gold panning in my Gemstone Detective guides to Australia, USA and India.
Even if you are not a diamond
connoisseur, you will probably have heard the term ‘conflict’ or ‘blood’
diamonds and are aware that diamonds have been fuelling civil wars. Sierra
Leone, Liberia, Angola, the Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, the Central
African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo have all been embroiled
in violent civil discord over recent years, driven by diamonds.
A conflict diamond is defined as an
illegally traded diamond mined at some point within the last 50 years.
Established by the United Nations in
the year 2003, The Kimberly Process was designed to prevent conflict diamonds
from entering the mainstream diamond market.
It enables legitimate traders to certify their diamonds as ‘conflict
free’. Even so, these illegal diamonds
still slip through the net, with some estimating that up to 15% of diamonds
sold in mainstream markets are conflict diamonds. It’s also important to note that the Kimberly
Process doesn’t exclude diamonds mined in a way that damages communities, the
environment or the miners themselves.
How to buy an ethical diamond
out the source. Ask your jeweller where the diamonds were mined.
for details about the diamonds.
buy diamonds that come from countries notorious for human rights abuses in
their mining industry. Check Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch if you’re not sure.
might end up paying a bit more, but buy diamonds in countries where standards
are rigorously enforced – Canada, for example.
the miners in Namibia and Botswana, and other countries where miner’s rights
and environmental standards are strictly enforced. Income from mining creates jobs and will help
these developing countries.
from a reputable dealer who will guarantee that each diamond one was mined with
stringent criteria on responsible and ethical sourcing.
from jewellers who make a commitment to ethical sourcing.
Follow the link to get more information about the evening event, being hosted by The Network.
Whether you’re a gemstone enthusiast, a jeweller looking for
inspiration or simply curious about gemstones, gem shows are an amazing way to
hunt down some great purchases and meet loads of interesting people at the same
Over the last year, I’ve been lucky enough both to attend and exhibit at some world-famous gem shows and am looking forward to many more.
Gem shows can be quite overwhelming for a newbie. With hundreds of exhibitors and hundreds of thousands of gemstones to see, gemstones can be quite overwhelming for a newbie. I’ve learned a few things over my time on the gem show circuit, so today’s post is about giving you some pointers before you go.
Tip 1: do your
Gem shows, particularly the famous ones, tend to have a very particular ‘feel’. Depending on your reasons for attending, some may be suitable for you and others not. If you’re a jeweller looking for small stones for setting, a show specialising in specimen gems or geodes is probably not going to be much use to you. Likewise, if you’re an interested amateur rock hound, don’t plan on going to trade-only gem shows as you won’t be allowed in.
Tip 2: set a
With so many thousands of gorgeous stones on display, it’s all too easy
to get carried away at a gem show. Don’t
bankrupt yourself! One way of setting a
budget is to take cash only, so you can’t spend more than you’d bargained
for. Make sure you carry it in a secure
money belt, though.
Tip 3: prepare
It may seem obvious, but don’t forget to take a strong bag with a
secure closure to keep your purchases safe.
A notebook and mini stapler are also really useful so that you can
staple a seller’s card to each page and have space to make notes on price,
Tip 4: have a
Study the list of vendors and the exhibition map beforehand and note down any that you really want to see. In the hustle and bustle of a gem show, you may get distracted and forget to find the stands you meant to visit. On the other hand, it can be enjoyable not to make your game plan too regimented. Part of the fun of gem shows is letting the show itself lead you—you might come across some unexpected treasures!
Tip 5: make
Don’t forget to stop and chat. Vendors tend to love talking about the gems they have for sale and are usually really keen to share their experience and knowledge with you. Make sure you take a heap of business cards with you, so you can easily swap details. Who knows, you might make some friends and contacts for life!
I hope you were able to find a few minutes to read Who is the Author – Parts 1 & 2. This is the final Who is the Author Q&A blog post.
What is the biggest mistake people
make when buying a gemstone that you tackle in the books?
The biggest mistake I think people make is being too trusting. One thing that I have learned through my
travels is that not many people working in the gem trade have real knowledge
about what they’re selling. They might
talk the talk – but how much do they really know about gemstones? You have to be so careful about who you buy
Unfortunately, it often comes down to survival. Competition is cut throat, there are bills to pay and families to feed. It’s a dog eat dog world out there and many people are willing to be dishonest to make money.
But that’s why it’s so important to take care and buy from people who can
advise you properly – people with real knowledge and if you’re buying a
precious gemstone, can give you a certificate from a reputable laboratory.
Who is the Author – Part 3
The Worldwide book offers the widest, most general appeal,
to anyone interested in buying a real gemstone – it looks set to be very
popular. What led to the creation of this
book, what sort of topics does it cover and who do you hope will read it?
After I had written the first few books, it became apparent that there was a market for a more general book on buying and caring for gemstones. It’s great for people who want to know more, but haven’t booked a holiday yet, or who want to buy a gemstone in their home country. I’ve taken out the country-specific detail, which has enabled me to add a few new topics.
I think the most helpful knowledge I share will be about choosing a diamond engagement ring. It was my husband’s idea to include an easy-to-follow guide to buying a diamond after confessing that he wished he’d known more about it when he chose our engagement ring 12 years ago. It’s written to help those who find themselves in a similar position – not knowing anything about diamonds but wanting to put a carat or two on their loved one’s finger. I talk about the 4Cs in relation to diamonds, the different ring styles and gemstone cuts, and I share some tips on making your holiday proposal one to remember!
handful of other new topics in the book, but I don’t want to spoil all the surprises!
Who is the Author – Part 3
What are your top tips for anyone who
wants to buy a real gemstone, such as a diamond, in the UK?
It doesn’t matter where in the world you are buying a diamond from, the exact same rules apply – make sure you buy from a reputable jeweller, and make sure it comes with a certificate – preferably a GIA lab report.
My other suggestion is to buy only what you can afford. Don’t listen to all the hype about how many months salary you should spend on a diamond – that was a line made up by a well-known diamond company to boost sales in the 1930s! Buy something that your loved one will enjoy wearing and that will suit the lifestyle you live.
How would you
describe the Gemstone Detective series to anyone who has never heard of it
It’s a simple travel guide to buying gemstones abroad. It’s a bit like a Lonely Planet or Rough Guide – but it’s just about holiday experiences with gemstones & jewellery.
Most of the books are country specific. The books are for
tourists and travellers, whether they are gem collectors, jewellery lovers,
jewellery designers, hobbyists, or just holiday makers who want to take home a
Because I’ve been out there to research the gem trade in
each of the countries featured, the information is real, up to date and you can
The launch was very successful and those who were there have
told me they had a great time. I
certainly did – the food was great, and both conversation and bubbly were
We’ve had some excellent feedback from readers of the book. We’re racking up more 4 and 5 star reviews from readers on Netgalley, and there is a growing number of equally glowing 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon – 15 and counting…
It’s been great to see that several people have read the first book and then pre-ordered the rest of the series. It never even crossed my mind when I began this project that people would want to collect every book!
three books in one night tonight – quite an impressive feat! Why is it important for you to offer such a
wide range of books within the series?
Well, when someone refers to a ‘series’ I think there’s an
expectation that it’s going to be more than a few books… Of course, I want my
books to help as many people as possible.
Offering such a wide range reflects how many options we now have as
tourists to travel and explore.
How long does it take
you to write each book? What is the process in terms of choosing a destination?
Each book is a combination of 2-3 research trips, which adds
up to about 4-6 weeks research in that country. I’ve often been to a country a couple of times
even before I go back for these research trips. My most recent trip was to India,
and that book is now with the printers, ready to hit the shelves in May.
It’s easy to choose countries for the series because I know
exactly which tourist destinations have a well-established gem trade. Not all gemstone-producing countries are
suitable, so I won’t be writing a book for Cambodia, Afghanistan or Madagascar
just yet – the gem trade is too young and underdeveloped.
Who is the Author – Part 2
Where are you
travelling to this year?
I’m heading off to USA next week for a 6-week trip, and I’ll
be returning to the USA in May for a further two weeks.
I’m not quite sure how the rest of the year looks yet
because I want to fit in a trip to Mogok to finish researching the Myanmar
book, and then there’s the possibility of combining a trip to several countries
in Africa – South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania and Zanzibar.
When will the next
books be released?
India will be published on 14 May 2019, and USA will be published in September 2019. I’m not yet sure about Myanmar but hopefully it will be sometime this year – if I can squeeze in that second trip to Mogok. It’s going to be a very busy year!
Who is the Author? Over the next few weeks I will tell you a bit about myself and why I am writing the Gemstone Detective series.
Who is Kim Rix? Why are you the right person to write this book?
I’m a wife, daughter, aunty, cat-lover, gin-drinking, sun-worshipping, 4 ft 11 Ninja! I’m also a professional photographer, a gemmologist and I love to travel.
I have a very well-travelled family, who now live all over
the world. Over the years I have
listened to their stories, admired their photos and wished my lottery numbers
would come up so that I too could pack my suitcase. As time went on, I found it harder and harder
to ignore my wanderlust and realised that I couldn’t just wait for that lucky
ticket – I had to get out there and do it for myself.
Something else that had been brewing up inside me for a while was the urge to learn everything I could about gemstones. I had fallen in love with gemstones as a young girl. At that tender age, all I knew was that my birthstone was amethyst, and that diamonds were a girl’s best friend. From then on, I grabbed every available opportunity to look at gemstones. It became a bit of an expensive hobby and maybe even a bit of an addiction! One day, I decided that I should turn my hobby into something more serious – so I signed up for a course at the GIA.
Then there’s my photography. I’ve had a passion for
photography since my twenties. I love capturing the beauty of life in all its
guises. On holiday that usually means
wildlife, people, street photography and occasionally landscape photography. Something that not everyone knows is that 99%
of the photography in each book was taken by me on my research trips.
When I had the idea to write this series, it just felt perfect. I knew the books could help people like the young me – people who loved gemstones but didn’t know much about them. It’s not just my expertise in gemmology that makes me the right person to write these books – I’ve had the bad experiences, myself. Several years ago, I got caught out in Egypt. I thought I was buying a real ruby at a bargain price, when in fact it was just a cheap synthetic, made in a lab. If I knew back then what I know now, that wouldn’t have happened! I don’t want other people to make that same mistake…
You’ve combined three
passions into a career – that’s really inspirational! How did you do it?
It’s easy. Once I came up with the idea, I made a commitment to myself to do it. About 4 years ago, I was diagnosed with heart disease. I made a few lifestyle adjustments and I’m fine now, but it was a pretty scary realisation. It really brought home to me how precious life is. I was determined to get this series underway quickly, because you never know what tomorrow will bring. I believe you have to grab life with both hands and make the most of it while you can. I’m cramming each day with the things I love! I’m a self-taught photographer, I’ve always loved things that are shiny and sparkly, and I love travelling and exploring the world. Writing books which help people avoid buying a fake gemstone lets me do all these things. Now I life my life with passion, purpose and I’m getting an enormous amount of pleasure doing it!
What do you love most
about photography, gemstones/jewellery and travelling?
What do I love most about it all? It’s hard to put in to words – I just love the freedom. I meet so many interesting people. I get to look at lots of lovely shiny things. And I’m seeing the world.