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FAQ: What does gold come up as on a metal detector?

FAQ:  What does gold come up as on a metal detector?

Once again, I figured I would do a quick blog on a question that we get quite often:  Where does gold ring up on a metal detector?

This is a tricky answer.  The reason is because gold objects, whether naturally occurring nuggets, or the various man made gold objects, range across the board on a metal detector much like you find with aluminum and other metals.  It comes in all shapes and sizes just like aluminum.  Gold, however, throws another curve ball at metal detectorists.  It comes in a wide variety of alloys.  For instance "white gold" is not pure gold.  It is typically alloyed with another metal like nickle, zinc, palladium, or silver.  

The Minelab Equinox 800 is a Great All Around Gold Metal Detector

So, the size and shape of the object matters as well as the alloy of the gold you are metal detecting as well as the alloy of the gold item.

Size and Shape of Gold and Target ID and Audio Tone When Metal Detecting

To explain why the size of the object matters, I will use the example of aluminum since that is the majority of the scrap metals we find when metal detecting.  Notice that a small piece of aluminium (say foil) will typically display a lower target ID # and a lower audio tone on most metal detectors. While a large piece of aluminum (think aluminum can) will give you a higher number target ID and a much louder sound.  This will be very similar when it comes to gold with regards to size and shape.  A small earring will ring up similar to a small ball of foil.  So will a small piece of naturally occurring gold.  A large mens ring, will show up higher, closer to a coin reading.  A medium sized gold ring like that found with most women's rings will show up in the middle.  As you will notice on the display face of the Garrett ACE Series Metal detector shown below, there is a wide range where gold and rings show up on the indicator.  Notice, the primary location a gold ring will come up is right smack dab where pull tabs show up.  Dig every single pulltab you come across.  If you don't, you will miss out on a lot of lost rings.

where does a gold ring come up on a metal detector

Alloy of Gold and Reading on a Metal Detector

So, when it comes to detecting gold with a metal detector, size does matter.  As mentioned, another factor with gold will determine how it shows on a metal detector.  This is due to conductivity of the metal being detected.  For instane if a piece of gold is alloyed with (or naturally occurs with) another metal, this will widely change where it shows up on a metal detector.  This will affect the visual indication on the detector as well as the audio output.  A large men's ring that is alloyed with silver will show up closer to where coins do and typically give you a higher pitched audio indication.  A ring that is alloyed with nickel will show up on the lower ind of the spectrum visually and typically give you a lower tone audio indication.

The Short and Skinny of Where Gold Shows Up on a Metal Detector

One of the most common questions we get is Does The Metal Detector Detect Gold?  The answer is YES, they all do.  Some do it better than others.  Some detectors like the Minelab Gold Monster or GPZ 7000 are specifically designed to find small gold pieces (which most naturally occurring gold is).  When it comes to finding gold rings, just about any metal detector will work.  But you have to realize it is not the detector that makes the difference.  It is the person doing the digging.  You have to commit to digging foil, pulltabs, nickels, etc.  If you don't  you will certainly be missing out on gold.  In this situation it is important to realizing that your rate of recovering objects from the ground is crucial.  Simply put, dig more holes and retrieve the items from the ground quick and move on the the next hole.  The guy who digs the most wins - almost inevitibly.  

I hope this clarifies the question for most people out there.  Good luck and happy hunting!

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  • Joshua Turpin