I am a Freelance Writer-Photographer and Novelist. I travel to find inspiration, wherever the distant horizons lead.
Published January 12th 2014
Find diamonds, gems and gold, find Beechworth's history
The geology of Victoria can be a fascinating subject, and an interesting point is that there are diamonds to be found near Beechworth in the states north east. The diamonds found there are as you might expect rare, and they are typically not the highest quality, but present an exciting possibility if you really want to do something different.
The quality meaning the purity of colour and how free they are of inclusions of impurities such as other minerals, which can appear as specks or discoloration when viewed closely, or under a jeweller's 10 power loupe or magnifier. The loupe is an industry standard device for general use when rating clarity, natural surface features, perfection of the cut and so on.
Diamonds are graded; flawless, very very slight one (VVS1), vs1, down to imperfect 3 (I3), the limit before the stone is considered below gem quality. Colour is rated from D to Z, the purest white stones, grading into off-white, then finally fancy coloured stones which are worth even more! It takes weeks of training to grade stones, and the inexperienced will not be able to distinguish the difference between consecutive colour grades. For a more complete guide to grading diamonds click here. Although the depostis are significant for the collector, they are not commercial deposits.
On that point, what is a gem? The 3 key features of a mineral, rock or natural material that make it a gem are, it must possess: 1. Beauty. 2. Rarity. 3. Durability. It is important to note a lot of very attractive minerals are not on the market due to a poor lack of resistance to abrasion. The property is known as Hardness. Hardness is akin to the slightly less important feature Tenacity or toughness, being the ability to resist impact. If you fancy a professional level course of study, that will make you an Australian Gemmologist click here.
So where do you find diamonds in Victoria? The areas along the Reedy Creek near Beechworth, including Wooragee, Spring Creek, Sebastspol, Napolean Flat and Eldorado. The area was well known by the thousands of miners of the 1850's who lined the banks in their quest for gold. The great assortment of gems were of little value to them, and probably their lack of knowledge did not help. They were neither sought nor kept.
From left, rock crystal, smokey quartz, citrine, amethyst, and rose quartz.
To buy a miners right (a legal fossickers licence) so that you are fossicking legally, follow the directions on the Government Energy and Resources website,click here. The area has been regarded by enthusiasts as one of the richest areas in Victoria, especially when you consider the sheer number of different gem varieties that can be found. If you become hooked, there are Gem Clubs to follow your new found passion. For a list of gem clubs across Australia click here.
Green beryl; Other beryl varieties include emerald and aquamarine.
The next step is to take a pick, shovel, gem and gold sieves found at your local fossicking and prospecting shop. The gold pan will be useful for small stones. Find accommodation or take a tent. Buy a map that will assist in pinpointing the specific area for diamonds and dig! Incidentally, the best map to help to help find specific gem localities in the area is 'Gold, Gemstone & Relic Sites; Outdoor Press.' Basic hand tools can be purchased from Bunnings if you do not have garden tools, but try specialist hand picks, pans, sieves and maps from The Miner's Den, they are located across Australia, click here.
Patience is a must here, and be sure to dig for a few hours or more. Sift the stones through the sieves, and sort the fine gravel in a gold pan. Swilling water around the pan will make most of the less dense gravel wash over the edge, and the heavy and dense minerals and gems will be found as you have swilled most of the lighter stones away. It does take some practice, and use the water flow to steadily wash the lighter materials away, taking a few minutes to do so. Slightly larger stones will be found by sorting through the sieves slowly. Being bigger, they will be easier to spot than in the gold pan. You will find tourmalines, garnets, sapphires, zircons, aquamarine, quartz varieties and more. I have panned a little gold in the area, and found a decent green beryl which is related to aquamarine and emerald, just being coloured by a different chemical impurity. Quartz varieties such as rock crystal, smokey quartz, citrine and amethyst are more prevalent and if you find red zircon, you may think you have found rubies.
There have been reports of diamonds in small concentrations in the deep leads systems (leads being mineral deposits associated with gold), below the basalt capping (more recent lava flows), in western Victoria. These deposits follow more ancient river beds and streams and are not in commercially viable quantities or quality and are found at greater depths.
The Beechworth area has its own subtle beauty, you will find the low granite hills alluring and some of the hills tops worth a stroll. Be competent with a GPS and a compass and please make sure you have forestry maps before you take off and lose yourself. Beechworth itself has an amazing history and you cannot help being drawn into the old world. There are great places to eat and stay too. T
The historic buildings echo the bygone era. The tourist attractions such as The Beechworth Gaol are a must and you can spend a weekend or more just in town! Our history may be considered a short one compared to more ancient civilisations, but it is rich and fascinating to say the least. For information from the Beechworth visitor information site, click here.
What a great and comprehensive article. Well done. I enjoyed all the information that you have added, links to getting a licence to fossick, how to pan for diamonds. It is so well written. Did you fossick for diamonds and find your fortune?
Interesting article you always think Beechworth was gold diggings not diamonds.
Just discovered my Great Grand Father ( James Gill) discovered 11 diamonds in his site about 1865 the largest selling for £8 he then went on to buy The Royal Standard Hotel in Rutherglen must have found a lot more diamonds.