Gold washing in Orbe river.

We found some gold, beautiful swiss jade and even a few dark sapphires.

Selecting the perfect spot.

Installing the sluice box and assuring

it gets the right amount of water and current.

At the rivere edge a hole is dug down below the water level.

The gravel is fed into the sluice box during half a day.

Then the sluice box is carefully cleaned

and the remains poured in a washing pan.

Here final separation of sand and gold is in progres.

The first flitters of gold appear

and a bit shaky I pick them up with a brush.

"Voila" about 12 flitters of gold is the production of this day.

A happy team with its treasure on the way home.

Mineral exploration and crystal hunting is an interesting task to the lapidary. I enjoyed to see how and where the swiss minerals are found. In the Orbe river at the swiss Jura mountains I found gold and swiss jade. Michael my guide from the mineral hunting club shared one of his locations and we enjoyed a beautiful day. He initiated me to the secrets of gold washing and shared his refined technique. In addition he offered me the entire gold production of that day.

While Michael is digging,

I am feeding the sluice box.

Hubert is picking the Jade and looks for sapphires.

The gold flitters appear in the sluice box.

Careful cleaning of the sluice box

at the end of the day.

Washing the remains and

picking the gold.

This is the production of several weekends at the river.

On our second visit of this placer deposit, 3 years later, we selected a different spot. To our big surpise we not only found plentiful of Swis omphacite jade but also some havily worn sapphire pebbles. This time Michael selected a spot in the middle of the Orbe river and dug a hole of about 1 meter depth to reach the gold bearing layer. The gravel was havily compacted and he needed a crow bar to loosen it up.

Omphacite jade pebbles from Orbe river, rough and polished. Also called alpine jade or swiss jade.

Additional reading :
Jade-Omphacite by Shane F. McClure, GIA in english
Le jade alpine by Michel Gratier in french
Gabbro-Eclogite by Michel Gratier in french

Mines & minerals
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Copyright photos by Noreen Masaki