What are the essential items to take gemstone hunting?
It’s a question that crossed my mind when I found out that September is preparedness month in the USA—a month for us all to consider whether we’d be able to cope in an emergency. Admittedly, the sort of emergency situations that commonly happen on a gemstone hunting trip aren’t anything like as serious as a full-scale disaster! That said, some items could well mean the difference between a successful trip and a trip to hospital.
Here are my top ten essential items to take gemstone hunting, whether I’m shopping or fossicking.
A jeweller’s loupe is a special magnifying glass that enables you to get up close to your gemstone. The presence or absence of flaws can tell you a lot about whether a stone is genuine. Of course, it’s no substitute for authentication from a gem lab, but it can help you identify obvious fakes or problematic flaws. It also makes you look less like a gullible tourist! A good quality loupe of 10X magnification is the gemmologist’s go-to tool and I never go gemstone shopping without mine.
A small hand torch partnered with your loupe is a must-have when looking at gemstones in a badly lit shop. A white light torch will mimic daylight conditions and help you to get a better idea of a gemstone’s colour and clarity.
Whether you are hitting the shops or heading out into the field, the sun in many countries can be intense. Don’t fall victim to potentially dangerous heatstroke—take a hat! Likewise, make sure you slap on lots of sun cream before you leave, and top it up regularly. Bad sunburn can ruin a trip.
Don’t waste precious gemstone hunting time trying to find a pharmacy. Pack plasters, antiseptic cream, tweezers, painkillers, diarrhoea pills and some bandage at the very least.
You’ll be picking up and putting down a lot of stones on your gem hunting trip. If you’re fossicking, there’ll be a lot of dust and dirt. Handwashing facilities are often few and far between, and the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us the importance of keeping our hands clean.
Your feet won’t thank you for flimsy sandals or thin-soled trainers. At best, you’ll end up sore and aching. More seriously, inappropriate footwear can be dangerous on uneven or slippery ground. Comfortable, well fitting shoes are an absolute essential when spending the day on your feet.
It’s easy to get lost down unfamiliar city streets and you don’t always want to use up your phone battery looking up your location on Google maps. Out in the field you may lack the signal to do this anyway. A map is particularly important to check you are not straying into forbidden areas. In some countries this could be a mistake with serious consequences.
In a crowded gemstone market, it’s hard to keep a proper eye on your belongings. Don’t let the pickpockets spoil your fun—protect your purchases, cash and cards with a money belt.
Like sunstroke, dehydration can be serious. Make sure you take water with you and make sure it’s clean.
I’m going to blow my own trumpet here! I wrote each one of my Gemstone Detective guides to help tourists, hobbyists and gemstone enthusiasts get the most out of their travels. Take my pocket-sized guides with you to find out where to go, what to ask and who to trust.
By packing these ten essential items to take gemstone hunting, you’re sure to have a great trip!
Be sure. Be smart. Buy with confidence