More on "Do My Rocks Contain Gold?"

 (Quartz rock showing mica [one form of "fool's" gold] and little other mineralization.)

Well by gosh and by golly the e-mails keep rolling in. It seems I've become the I.D. King when it comes to the "gold" in those loose rocks and stones many of you are finding. Here's the thing that many of you need to realize though. (Read on to find out what that "thing" is.)

Two and Only Two

Here it is in a nutshell. Of the hundred or so rock identification queries (with photos included, that is) I've received over the past eight years only two (yes TWO) have contained visible gold. I've been at this gold mining and prospecting thing pushing 37 years now so I know gold when I see it, whether it's photographic evidence or the real thing sitting in my hot little hand. That said, I'm not a fire or chemical assayer so I can't tell you the exact mineral or metal constituents inside a rock (or piece of ore). By the way, there's a difference between the two if you didn't know that already. Yes, it could be said a rock that's highly mineralized is a potential ore form but that doesn't necessarily mean that rock contains gold. Many rocks (quartz and otherwise) can indicate high levels of mineralization without a trace of gold or silver or copper in them. Ultimately that result lies in the hands of Ma Nature who can be very devious when it comes to rocks and gold or gold in general. You veterans and old timers out there know this to be true but it's very hard for newbies and greenhorns to grasp this fact. I guess that's where I step in.

Just Stating Facts

I'm not trying to belittle or ridicule those of you who are inexperienced in this gold identification regard. That's the last thing I would ever intentionally do. I'm here to help when and where I can and I will continue to examine your rock finds via this digital highway. But there are certain things you can do on your own to avoid needless queries. Take the time to learn something about natural gold and the myriad forms it takes. Learn the difference between the most common forms of "fool's" gold like mica and iron pyrites and real gold in its natural state. A little leg work on your own can work wonders and save your time as well as mine. You see, I'm answering mining-related e-mails from all over the known world each and every day and though I try to be as prompt and courteous as I can be in this task, I don't have the time to give each and every one of you out there a basic course on mineralization and field gold identification. I'm not trying to be shitty here...just stating facts. So take it upon yourselves to do a minimum of self-study online or via books that can be found at any library. Also, the questions many of you have can be answered by using the search function in the right sidebar here at Bedrock Dreams. I suspect that after eight years writing and publishing this blog that I've written at least one post if not a half dozen that relate to your rock I.D. questions.

 (Wowee! Just look at all that gold in my rock! [An example of iron pyrite in host rock...another form of "fool's" gold.])

What's in Them Thar Rocks?

Now listen up. In most instances when I receive your "Do my rocks contain gold?" queries you are running on fully fanned gold fever because you've mistaken mica or pyrite for gold. You see something shiny or brassy looking in your rocks and are off and running. This is the greenest of greenhorn mistakes and I too was partial to making it when I first started out on this golden path. So no one is judging you here, least of all myself. If you don't know why mica and pyrites are called "fool's" gold or can't tell the difference between them and real gold I have at least two posts in Bedrock Dreams devoted to that topic that will help you understand the differences. Again, show a little initiative and do a little leg work on your own. You might be surprised at what you find out as opposed to potentially embarrassing yourself by making statements about gold in "them thar rocks" you have when anyone with a measure of knowledge and experience knows you're just peeing into the wind when it comes to gold identification.

No Butt Kissing Here

Yes, I'm blunt and direct. I'm not gonna blow smoke up your ass in this regard or any other as most of you know by now. That's just how I roll and if certain folks don't like it because they want their egos stroked or they want me to hold their hands while I patiently send e-mail after e-mail trying to level them up knowledge-wise then that's on them. I ain't that guy. Go talk to one of the dream merchants or big-time gold bullshitters out there who will certainly be glad to expound upon all things gold, including the "gold" in your rocks. Just know that while they do so they'll be assessing you for your level of greenness and figuring how much useless and expensive gear they can sell you. That's how it works in many instances whether you realize it or not. I may not kiss your ass but at least I'll tell you the truth as I know it and see it.

Sure-Fire Methods

Again, there are two main ways you can tell if there's gold in your rocks: 1) Crush those puppies (or relative samples) up in a heavy duty mortar and pestle or rock crusher and then use a gold pan, spiral wheel, Blue Bowl, or some other form of small concentrator to see if any free-milling gold shows up. 2) Send samples of your rocks off to a licensed assayer practiced in the art of fire or chemical assaying. This is the ONLY sure-fire method to know exactly what minerals and/or metals your rocks contain and in what quantity.

 (Part of the fire assay process.)

If you can't identify gold visually in the first place this is the route to go despite its cost if you truly believe you've hit a mini-Motherlode in your back yard. Be advised that gold may hide within your rocks too or it may take the form of microscopic particles. Again, one or both of the two methods I listed will tell the tale. Then we have those refractory gold ores that contain gold in a chemical form but that's a whole different story and wayyyyyyyyyyy beyond the identification potential of newbies. Hell, it's likely beyond my capabilities to I.D. as well. That's the best advice I can give to those of you wanting to know if your rocks contain gold. Your photos hold very limited potential for me to I.D. gold in them the majority of the time. Even if I had your samples in hand, in most instances I'd have to revert to those two identification processes I mentioned. However, when the real thing is there and showing on the exterior of your rocks I will tell you what I'm seeing. Again, that's only happened twice in eight years.

A Bright Spot

Here's the bright spot in all this. By virtue of the fact that rock you picked up has some sort of visual attraction that made you pocket it shows me that you're using your eyes and noticing something that's out of the norm. If you keep building your knowledge and experience levels at prospecting and mining this way (and other ways) then one fine day you'll pick up a rock that really DOES contain gold.

How's that sound?

(c) Jim Rocha 2016

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. JR, as a hunter, I have looked through binoculars at every stump or rock to see if it is a bear, deer ,elk or whatever I'm after, but when you see the real thing, you know what it is and don't need binoculars! Gold is the same way, when you see the real stuff, there is no doubt about it! Tiny, microscopic stuff might be different, but over all, if it's real gold, you know it right away.
    What I personally am at sort of a loss at, is what minerals to look for that might be a sign the gold could be there. Thanks to you, and "Bedrock Dreams" I'm learning more about that as well. Gary

  2. I found the most beautiful iron stained quartz vein and just knew it had to be teeming with gold. Not so fact all the samples I crushed contained absolutely zero gold. A sobering lesson to be sure, but a valuable one. Sample, test, research the area, and if there is no gold history or gold found, move on. Microscopic gold is too much work for too little gain unless you have unlimited resources, even then why bother? Chemically tied up gold is beyond my ability to actually determine and again too much work for a small scale miner like me. Real gold is easy to determine if you learn the basics, and the basics are all over this website you created for us, and I, for one am very grateful.

    Regards Jeff


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