Fossicking For Sapphires in The Gemfields

fossicking-for-sapphiresIn this post, you can learn how to go about when you want to go fossicking for sapphires in the Sapphire Gemfields, Central Queensland. The Sapphire Gemfields cover around 900 square kilometers, some 348 square miles, and the area is actually one of the largest sapphire fields on earth.

The area includes the towns of Rubyvale, Anakie, Sapphire, and Willows Gemfields. Mining in the fields started in 1875 when a Railway surveyor found the first sapphire gem here. Today, visitors from all across the planet come here to search for a sapphire that may come in multiple colors, from yellow, blue, and green, to multi-colored and star-shaped sapphires.

If you feel like trying your luck you can come to Central Queensland and find a sapphire in the Gemfields of Central Queensland. Sure, you can come to the Rubvale Gem Gallery and purchase a fine piece of sapphire jewelry or a cut gem, but digging up your very own rough sapphire is a great experience that’s sure to make your souvenir a lot more precious.

If you want to find your own sapphire, take a look at these guidelines for fossicking for sapphires.

1. Come to Central Queensland’s Sapphire Gemfields
From Brisbane, it will take you around 11 hours to drive to Rubyvale, but there are also flights from Brisbane to Emerald that will get you there in just one hour, and then it’s just one hour by car to get to Rubyvale. When driving out of Emerald, be sure to visit the huge Van Gogh reproduction and Big Easel. The Big Easel represents a tribute to the sunflowers of Van Gogh as a symbol of hope and life. Emerald is actually one out of seven sites in the world that were chosen by renown artist Cameron Cross to paint reproductions of Van Gogh’s sunflowers. Emerald is one of the major centers in Australia for growing sunflowers and every year, the town hosts an interesting sunflower festival.

2. Get the right equipment

If you go to Rubyvale, you will need a permit for sapphire fossicking. In Rubyvale you can also hire or buy everything you require for a day’s fun of fossicking, but if this is your first time, make sure to first get on a fossicking tour where you’ll be instructed by a professional guide. Good and affordable tours are offered, among others, by the Little House of Gems.

3. hoe, dig, or pick into the soil and sieve it. You will learn how to hoe, pick, or dig into the soil so you can fill up your bucket with dirt. Now let’s see if your soil holds a hidden sapphire. You need to sieve the soil to do away with all the dust. After sieving the soil, you will need to pour the soil into another sieve to wash it.

4. Tap the sieve in a bucket of water. You will need a couple of minutes for tapping the sieve in a big enough bucket of water. The soil will be cleaned thoroughly and if there are heavy sapphires, they will sink down to the bottom. You then need to turn out your washed soil onto a tabletop to discover if you really did find any precious sapphires.

5. Sapphires on top. If you’ve done everything right, and if your soul contained any sapphires, they ought to be lying round the sides or on top once you will remove the sieve. When you see a little green thing, you know you found something, but often it is not big enough to hold any value, though there have been times recently that fossickers found sapphires that were big enough to make a beautiful set of earrings. When you’re lucky enough and find a large sapphire, you can have it cut locally at the Little House of Gems in Rubyvale.

Probably you’ve spent just a few hours of the day fossicking, yet all that picking, digging, dirt-lifting, and sieving is pretty hard and dirty labor, so you’ll be glad to get back to your accommodation or campsite and have a thorough clean-up shower. A great experience is watching the sunset at Policeman’s Knob, located just outside of Rubyvale, and once you’ve done that, set out for a drink and some food at the New Royal Rubyvale Hotel, where they also offer cabin accommodation.

P.S. Here a small but oh-so-useful Sapphire Fossicking tip:
When it has rained heavily, sapphires are often washed down a creek and can be found frequently around some washed-out tree roots. So when you’re visiting the Sapphire Gemfields, and it has rained, you may not have to any digging at all. Just use your eyes while walking and check out the ground!