A Tasmanian man has struck gold when it comes to sharing the secrets to his fossicking finds with other gem hunters.
Miguel de Salas has started his own gem hunting association after he was frustrated with the lack of information publicly available about what to do when gold is found.
The Sanford man formed the Tasmanian Fossicking and Prospecting Association a few months ago to unite gem hunters across the state.
I offered him one of my sapphires which he had cut and put in a ring for his wife… it’s her engagement ring.
Miguel de Salas, prospector and fossicker
The Apple Isle Prospector — as he is known online — also maintains a website outlining what he has found, where he has been allowed to search, and what he has done with his finds.
“You find a lot of prospectors are pretty secretive. I write about my prospecting, but I think I am in a minority,” Mr de Salas said.
A botanist by day, Mr de Salas has searched for gems across Tasmania for more than 20 years.
“If I went down to an area and I used my metal detector and I found a really good patch of nuggets, I’m not going to tell anyone until I’ve gone over it three or four times and I can get as much as I can get out of it,” he said.
“But you can never get it all.”
Mr de Salas was inspired to start digging for his own treasures when he first saw his friend’s mineral collection.
Anything from sapphires, agates, topaz, zircons, gold nuggets, and petrified wood can now be found in Mr de Salas’ vast collection.
Mr de Salas first used word-of-mouth and recorded literature available from the major prospecting days of the 19th century to choose search spots.
“There were prospectors hanging out all over Tasmania and looking for gold and all of the minerals,” he said.
“I spent a bit of time looking for gold nuggets and panning for gold and slowly getting a collection together.”
Mr de Salas not only enjoys sharing his prospecting tips and tricks online but he has also been known to share his bounty with friends and family.
At one point his collection included a sapphire gemstone which he gifted to a friend.
“A friend of mine wanted to have a wedding ring out of gold that he panned from Tasmania himself and sapphires that he had found himself,” Mr de Salas said.
“He could not find enough material or enough gold and he was running out of time and I offered him one of my sapphires which he had cut and put in a ring for his wife… it is her engagement ring.
“There are diamonds in Tasmania but they are as rare as hens’ teeth and pretty remote.”
- Photo: Petrified wood arranged in separate sections after being polished by Miguel de Salas. (936 ABC Hobart: Damien Peck)
- Photo: Before and after: an unpolished stone compared to a polished stone shows the contrast in creating the object. (936 ABC Hobart: Damien Peck)
- Photo: A polisher tumbles with different liquids for up to five weeks to shine the stones and petrified wood. (936 ABC Hobart: Damien Peck)
- Photo: A collection of gold nuggets have been discovered with the help of a metal detector. (936 ABC Hobart: Damien Peck)
- Photo: Topaz can be found in north-east Tasmania areas in the Blue Tier. (936 ABC Hobart: Damien Peck)
- Photo: A cut of smoky quartz is one of the minerals found in Tasmania. (936 ABC Hobart: Damien Peck)
- Photo: Miguel de Salas has found smoky quartz in areas such as Gladstone. (936 ABC Hobart: Damien Peck)