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A gold-plated hobby?
With the price of gold on the rise, a daytrip to a Dahlonega mine can really pay off
A group pans for gold.

Want to make some extra cash? Try panning for gold.

Since the value of gold has skyrocketed over the last few years, who knows - maybe there will be enough in your pan for a gallon of gas?

John Fulhoff, a financial representative from Kingdom Advisors, said the current price of gold is extremely high - at last count, $945 for 1 ounce. This is compared to $702.57 just one year ago.

Gold was first discovered in the Dahlonega area in 1828 and since has been known for being rich in gold. Even today, the likelihood for finding gold is still high, said Tammy Ray, owner of Crisson Gold Mine in Dahlonega.

"Occasionally, you do luck up and find nuggets; they're real rare to find, but most of the time expect to find some flakes," she said.

Nevertheless, Ray said visitors to the mine have doubled, trying their luck at a new gold rush.

If you're planning a trip to Dahlonega, there are two mines where you can try your luck - Crisson and Consolidated Gold Mine.

It's not too difficult to pan for gold, Ray said, but it requires a great amount of patience. All you need is a gold pan, (similar to a mesh-covered pie pan) a shovel and some warm weather to do the job. Many participants at the Crisson Gold Mine use a pan from the mine and their own shovel to dig the ore out, she said.

For better results Ray said a classifier, "which is like a strainer that has like a screen mesh in it," clears the gravel, making the panning process a whole lot simpler.

Gold panning has been done the same way for years and most of the steps have been kept the same over time.

First, fill the gold pan with water, dirt, and other rock sediments. With a few swirls, the materials begin to settle according to their mass. Once the denser materials make their way to the bottom, allow the current to wash the dirt from the pan. After several repetitions of these steps, the heavier thick sand should appear, hopefully with a few gold pieces.

Ray suggested that when searching for gold in a river it is best to pan in the lowest area, also known as bedrock, because gold will be 19 times heavier than the water, making it easy to spot.

If you do find some flakes - or even a whole nugget - most jewelry stores will buy it off you.

"We do purchase panned gold," said Kim Hunter of Gainesville Jewelry, adding that the store will test it before they buy it.

Hunter said she has bought raw gold from half a dozen people in the last year.

"People usually keep it because it's cool to have, and very few people do that for a living because it's hard," Hunter said.

Ray added that she tells people not to look at it as a way of living, but as a good hobby instead.

"Everything that you do when you look for gold, even with all the big equipment, it ends up coming down to a gold pan," Ray said.