That time we went gem fossicking...
Ever been gem fossicking in Australia? No - neither had we!
At the end of taking part in the gruelling 228km Grafton - Inverell cycle classic, I realised I was in sapphire country. And so was my brother who was visiting from the UK.
I've been a jeweller for almost 30 years but never been gem fossicking so this was my chance to find the next Star of India - or something.
Not having fossicked before, we didn't have the proper equipment to do it with so, armed with hats, boots, sandwiches and a lot of water we found a fossicking park on the outskirts of Inverell. The only thing is - so did everyone else!
It wasn't quite as I expected but it was fun. A big pile of dirt is dug up from the nearby river bed and dumped on the ground where you take a bucket load of it from to look through. You seive it and wash it and hope to find some colour in it - blue or green sapphires or yellow or pink zircons.
The person fossicking next to us found a mahoosive stone and went off early in the day looking pretty smug. By then we'd been gripped with sapphire fever, desperately hoping the next bucket load of dirt would be "The One"....
It's safe to say we won't be auctioning off our finds at Christie's any time soon (see photo). We mostly found a lot of multi-coloured gravel but we did find a nice parti sapphire which I eventually set into an Australia charm that I handmade for my little niece's Christmas present.