I took a little 350k detour inland from the coast, at least in this part of the world thats a small detour. My detour took me to a small mining town called Sapphire which, not surprisingly, is famous for the mining of sapphires. Now for a small but nevertheless interesting little fact, sapphires are blue, right? Well yes they are, and other colours as well such as green, yellow aand pink. Apparently blue became the most well known colour because Thai gem buyers bought a lot of the early sapphires and only wanted the blue ones, which they presumably sold onto the rest of us.
I started my day in Sapphire with a little fossiking at Pats Gems which I was told is the most reliable operator in town for the first time fossikers. Basically they have a large pile of dirt and I bought my $8 worth in a bucket and my search for that gem that would seal my retirement. You start off with filling a sieve with some dirt from the bucket and taking out the larger rocks, then give whats left a wash in the water to remove the dirt, shake the tray in such a way that the sapphires work their way to the bottom, then the contents are emptied onto a flat surface and then the search begins. i was told that I would know a sapphire when I saw one which I was a bit sceptical about but it turned out to be true, the raw gems do sparkle in a way that the other rocks dont. I did manage to find some small sapphires which isnt unusual actually, however they were all worthless because they were too small. Another interesting fact, only about 5% are large and clear enough to be worth anything. Next up was a trip down an mine to gain an insight into the workings of a mine. The mines here are all owned by individuals who have purchased a plot of land and started digging for their fortune which stikes me as a bit risky. The mines we saw was small and was exhausted and was over a hundred years old in parts and I take my hat off to anyone brave (or stupid) enough to do this for a living, lots of hard work and luck for it seems not much reward.