|By: David Cowley|
Opals have been considered a magical precious stone for thousands of years. It is said to help the wearer's psychic powers and to have better and more vivid dreams. Modern Witches and Pagans especially look for black opals, said to enhance any magic spell. But not are opals rich in myth and magic, they are also really nice to look at. In many ways, they are similar to pearls, but not nearly so expensive.
Although you can buy opals from jewelers, geological shows and "nature" stores and their website equivalents, it's far more fun and magical to find the opal yourself. This is one of the many reasons why opal treasure hunting is becoming a popular activity, especially in Nevada and Oregon, where Bonanza Opal Mines and the Juniper Ridge Fire Opal Mines are.
Bonanza Opal Mines have "finders' keepers" days where the general public is allowed to come in, pay a daily fee of less than $50 and keep any and all opals that they find. You are not allowed to dig just anywhere in the mines, however. Some areas are reserved only for shareholders. But hunting for opals is still good in all of the other places of the mines.
Depending on where you choose to hunt for opal, the tools you should bring include Small Hand Rake, Shovel, Pick Axe, Hammer, Bucket, Gloves and Knee pads. You can use the hard rock mining technique which entails use of a pick axe, shovels, and a hammer or your could just rake through the tailing which are bulldozed piles of material removed from the mining area. Many of these mines are in extraordinarily remote areas so be prepared to camp and bring all necessary food, water and mining supplies.
Modern day opal treasure hunters don’t need to travel a huge distance to and from the mines when they need to relax after an invigorating day searching. They are allowed to camp in certain places in Bonanza Opal Mines. There are also shower facilities and a naturally heated pond. Camping and use of the showers is included in your daily fee.
If you like the thrill of the hunt and the beauty of the shifting colors of opals, you may be interested to know that sometimes opportunities come where you can be a Bonanza Opal Mine shareholder. When you become one of only 100 shareholders, then you are allowed to dig in the "bank" – the places thought to be richest in opals. If you are interesting in a share, you need to contact Bonanza Opal Mines by email or phone.
Juniper Ridge Fire Opal Mine is another mine that allows the general public to search for opals on a fee bases. The digging fee is $200 per person per day which gives you the right to dig for opals at the mine area and you are allowed to fill a one gallon bucket with raw gemstones. The mine operators at the Juniper Ridge Fire Opal Mine believe that any reasonably health and active adult should be able to fill a one gallon bucked within a single day. If you have more than one gallon bucket worth of material you can pay an additional fee or simply keep only the highest grade of opals to take home.
Before booking your opal treasure hunting trip, be sure to contact your local treasure hunting club to find information on what tools to bring. You can find out the contact information of your local club through the Federation of Metal Detectors and Archeologist Clubs, Inc. Often, your local Wal-Mart will have a display table or pamphlets from your local treasure hunting club available. Sometimes, there even will be club members manning the table so you can ask questions about opal treasure hunting.
Happy treasure hunting.