To be gold or not to be gold....

I have been prospecting an area in a national forest near my house.  I have been finding a bit of fine stuff which is great. Now I know a picture is worth a thousand words, but this stuff is so small my camera won't capture it. Some of this stuff is so fine that I am having a hard time distinguishing the peices of gold from other "stuff". Looking at some pieces they look a lot like small pieces of mica. When I magnify a piece however some are clearly gold some not so. A piece will look like gold but on an edge might have some black to brown color. With the point of a razor if I try to drag it on the bottom of my pan it leaves a streak then kinda breaks onto smaller pieces. I was hoping someone could give me some pointers on how to best tell if it's gold and things to look for.

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  • The best bet when first starting out is to get a small sample (maybe a gram) of natural gold (dust) and play with it in your gold pan.  Once you see how it behaves, you won't mistake other minerals.  The other thing is to get a jewelers optic.  They are really cheap (I bought 5 last week in a box at a store similar to Harbor Freight for about $5 USD).  When you have very fine stuff in your pan, they are really handy to see what you have.  Even little tiny flakes of gold look like their larger gold nuggets.  If you cannot find someone who will sell you a little bit of gold, I would recommend some commercial concentrates and extract your own.  I like Dirt Hogg from Alberta, but there are many others too. 

    • That's a great idea. Thank you 

  • That's great info and very helpful  thanks everyone. 

  • I should have said that gold can have coloration on/in it, depending on the iron and other metal contents of it.

  • Gold won't break up like that.  Gold can have some coloration on/in it, depending on the iron content.  As previously indicated by others, sounds like mica.

  • when the flakes roll over and you see black or brown, it's mica. Keep looking though!  Mica is usually found with granite rocks. Gold is often associated with quartz... generally speaking.

  • mica

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