New York Streets
Photo credit: Fabien Bazanegue on Unsplash

Digging for Gold in New York’s Sidewalks

Gold and gemstone prospectors sometimes work the streets of New York’s illustrious diamond district, but you might not recognize them. Kneeling, gloved, scraping and brushing, they could be mistaken for pedantic street cleaners, but don’t be fooled. Through practice, experience and professional recovery methods, some Big Apple prospectors have historically claimed striking over $300 per day in “paydirt.”

Real Diamonds and Gold in NYC Sidewalk Cracks

In March, 2022 video creator Klesh, who sells the paydirt he recovers from various areas, posted a 30 minute overview of extraction in New York City, followed by a comprehensive overview of media separation.

Starting before sunrise, at the corner of 5th Avenue and 47th Street with a steel hook pick, brush, bucket and portable vacuum, he scrapes and extracts detritus wedged between the sidewalk cracks, collecting the raw material in buckets. He works his way up one side of 47th Street to 6th Avenue, crosses the street and works his way back. Ultimately the gold and metal flakes, tiny diamond chips and melee he recovers total around $400.

Man Makes $300 A Day Finding Gold, Diamonds in NY

In a shorter video, with grittier coverage of what lies within New York’s sidewalk cracks, this 5 minute pieces from 2011 has earned more than 1.7 million views.

It follows Ralphie, one of New York’s original street prospectors, as he works the sidewalks in broad daylight, using elbow grease and old school separation techniques to identify and group the good, the bad and the ugly, allegedly making $300 per day.

Happy Hunting

When I was younger I also picked up the occasional twinkling object on New York’s sidewalks. Finding nothing of value, I ultimately lost interest. Perhaps I should have carried a vacuum?

Angi Butler

Angi's first career was in diamond, gemstone and fashion jewelry sales. Now a corporate executive, she shares her advice and opinions on these pages.

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