Can Metal Detectors Detect Gold?


Do metal detectors detect gold? When it comes to metal detecting, this might be the million-dollar question. Lucky for you, the answer is not that complicated. We’re going to show you exactly how and where to find gold with your metal detector.

Metal detectors can detect ferrous and non-ferrous metals. This means they can detect gold. Metal detectors have settings and frequencies that allow you to home in on gold. A high-quality metal detector can detect even small nuggets of gold or gold dust. A basic and mid-grade detector can detect gold rings and jewelry.

Whether you are a hobby metal detectorist or a gold prospector, there is a metal detector that can help you achieve your goals. Nothing is quite as exciting as finding your first gold ring or finding a gold deposit in the hills.

There are many techniques to help you out on your journey to find gold. So let’s get a better understanding of gold, how metal detectors find it, and how you can start searching for buried treasure today!

What is Gold? The Quick Answer

Gold has been treasured for thousands of years. It’s been made into jewelry, religious artifacts, computer parts, and even parts for jet engines. With all of that functionality, it’s no wonder that it is highly sought after.

So, what is gold? Gold is considered to be a chemical element and is one of the most valuable precious metals on the planet. It has an atomic number of 79. Au is its symbol on the periodic table. It’s considered a crystal structure with an atomic weight of 196.967. Source.

Gold is most widely known for its shiny bright yellow color. The allure to gold has caused people to go crazy, with gold hoarding and dangerous gold expeditions, earning the name “gold fever.”

Where Is Gold Found?

The California gold rush started in 1849. People came from all over the country for a chance to establish their wealth in the mountains of California. This particular rush, one of many around the country, led to many industries being created around the rush. Some got rich from digging the gold, others got rich from selling the shovels. These types of gold rushes even helped to create the U.S. Geological Survey, which would become a scientific agency of the government.

So now you may be wondering, after all of these years, where is gold found? Some states, like Colorado, Montana, and North Carolina are rich in gold. While others have had very little. You can find gold jewelry and coins, in just about any public park, beach, or private property.

American states with gold:

  • Colorado
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • Geogra
  • Idaho
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Oregan
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Some states, such as Texas, have had very small amounts of gold found, mostly while looking for other minerals. Texas is more well known for its “black gold” and had its own “oil rush.”

I’ve panned for gold in the mountains of Colorado and it was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had as a child. Even though we didn’t find any gold ourselves, we got to leave the gift shop with a good chunk of fools gold (pyrite.) To date, around 244,000 metric tons of gold have been found. Source.

Can Hand-held Metal Detectors Detect Gold?

Hand-held metal detectors can find gold. All machines have different frequencies and settings to help with finding gold and some work better than others. Not every metal detector is ideal for finding gold nuggets or gold dust. Your average mid-grade metal detector is perfect for finding gold jewelry, gold coins, and small gold nuggets, but that is all.

For finding very small gold nuggets and gold dust, you need a machine that has a lot of sensitivity settings, and also a smaller coil. Large coils are great for finding relics and large items, but a smaller coil lets you find small objects such as small pieces of jewelry and gold nuggets. There are also metal detectors that are called “nugget detectors” designed specifically for finding gold nuggets.

My first time to use my Garret Ace 300 on the beach, I found a gold ring with diamonds! You can be sure that after that, I was really on the hunt for more gold. To this day, it is still one of my best and favorite finds of all time. See our article for can metal detectors detect diamonds here.

Gold ring I found on a beach in Oklahoma.

How do you Find Gold With a Metal Detector?

The best way to find gold with a metal detector is to look for jewelry. You can find gold jewelry and gold coins in many places, such as public parks, beaches, private properties, and even in creeks or places where people swim.

My good friend’s dad, would snorkel at the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels, and dive down into areas where the river would dip down. He would use a metal detector to find all kinds of treasures such as gold necklaces, expensive sunglasses, and even cellphones.

You can also use high-end metal detectors to look for gold deposits. The best way to go about this is to look for other mineral deposits that are usually found near gold, and then chip away at those rocks. Then use the metal detector on spots where you think you’ve found something.

Chances are if you think you have found a few small gold nuggets, the metal detector will pick them up and deliver the signal and frequency of gold. Places, where old rotted tree roots move down into boulders, can be a hot spot for gold.

How Deep Can Metal Detectors Detect Gold?

The depth of a metal detector is somewhat dependant on the type of metal detector and the size of the coil. If you are looking for gold coins and jewelry, then a mid-grade metal detector works fine for finding gold around 8 inches deep. To get deeper, you may need a larger coil or a machine that has better technology.

It also depends on the size of the gold nugget or coin. Smaller items can get lost in some of the gold-mode settings, because of the low frequency. Discrimination can cause you to lose depth if you are using high discrimination settings. Most metal detectors can detect gold from 1 to 8 inches down, while more high-end detectors can go down 18 inches.

Best Types of Metal Detectors for Finding Gold

There are tons of metal detectors on the market, and most of them claim they can detect gold. However, after using many different models and brands, I’ve come to find that some work better than others, despite what they claim on the package.

Technology also comes into play. A PI (Pulse Induction) type of metal detector, can find gold much deeper than older technologies. Also, there are regular metal detectors, the kinds used by hobbyists such as myself, and there are gold nugget detectors. For me, I find mid-grade machines to be perfect for finding gold coins and gold jewelry.

The more high-end machines are designed to find gold dust and gold nuggets, so naturally, they are better at prospecting for gold. This would be the type of machine a serious gold prospector would use for detecting gold.

Tips for Finding Gold with a Metal Detector

I’ve found many gold items, coins, rings, necklaces, and even relics with some gold plating. So here are some tips that I’ve picked up along the way, to help you find your fair share of gold.

Public parks are great places to find gold jewelry and coins. I’ve spent countless hours metal detecting at public parks. The older the park the better. Always make sure to check your local laws to make sure metal detecting is allowed in that city.

Beaches are great places to find gold. There is a reason that Florida is called the gold coast, and it’s not because the city is rich, it’s because the beaches are awesome places to find gold coins and jewelry.

Go where the money is. Another good tip is to hunt at resorts and places where people that have money go. People lose rings, expensive sunglasses, and all kinds of awesome treasures when they are out having fun.

Playgrounds are great places to find jewelry. I’ve had a lot of luck in playgrounds that have sand and swingsets. Mothers and fathers who push their kids on swings, and spend time with them on the playground, can easily drop precious items.

Now you should have a good idea of what machines are best for finding gold, what types of gold you can find, and where you can find it. It takes a lot of patience and a lot of hunting to find the good stuff, so get out there and start searching for your buried treasure!

See our article for Can You Make Money With a Metal Detector here.

Every new search is a voyage to the Indies, a quest for buried treasure, a journey to the end of the rainbow; and whether or not at the end there shall be turned up a pot of gold or merely a delightful volume, there are always wonders along the way.

Vincent Starrett

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Chad Fox

Chad Fox is an expert treasure hunter who is experienced in metal detecting, magnet fishing, and geocaching. He enjoys the outdoors, making new discoveries, and helping people get started.

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