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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (11/2005) AMP (10/2005) Featured Article (12/2005)   Vol. 39 November 2005 
This Month's Features
As seen in the November 2005 edition of W&ET Magazine

Gold On The Internet

By: Lucile Bowen

Handling raw gold takes a knowledge that is best learned in the field, prospecting for it- panning, dredging, sluicing, dry washing, or metal detecting. Few realize that a person who knows gold can tell you what part of the country it came from. I have a friend who not only detects for gold but also sells it on the internet.

David Varabloff got introduced to prospecting when he was 11 years old, and in his very first pan of material from a river in British Columbia, Canada there were five golden nuggets. What luck... Dave was hooked! He would pick up all the magazines he could find that had articles about gold. He staked a claim and bought a high banker that he could convert into a dredge, but still he looked for a better way to find gold. He studied gold- its character, the way it differed from one area to another, how it appeared after traveling a far distance, etc. He read the ads on gold detectors, too, and Garrett's Stinger caught his eye because it was usable for both nuggetshooting and coin hunting. Finally, he decided he would go to Paradise Valley in Alaska with my next group.

By this time Dave was in his 20s and had learned the character of gold. He rode in the same bush plane as I did into Paradise Valley. As the plane bounced to a landing on the dirt runway, I glanced back at Dave. He had a grin from ear to ear. "If I don't find one nugget, this ride in here is enough," he said. But he did indeed find gold. In fact, wherever he put down his detector loop there was a nugget! He only had a week to stay, but in that one week he found as much gold as any of the rest did in two weeks. This was in part because he was the only one who was using a Stinger, and therefore no other machine interfered with his detector.

Dave now uses two Minelabs, the SD2100 and the GP3000, and hunts only for gold. Last summer he took his father nugget hunting in Australia. He discovered a new source of nuggets as well... on the internet, on eBay! It looked like a good opportunity to pick up some gold nuggets at a reasonable price, so he bid on two nuggets and got them. He thought he was getting a great deal. Unfortunately, when the nuggets finally arrived he found out he had overpaid. Nevertheless, it was the beginning of a new venture for him.

His website started out as It was designed as an information site. He has a passion for gold and wanted people to understand how to put it on the internet. Many times the sellers would not put the weight of the nugget, or their picture would be blurry, and sometimes their listings would be misleading. was created to point out some of these issues.

Dave then started selling gold on eBay and had links to his website for people to reference and read about how to buy gold. About a year into selling gold on eBay, he started noticing that there were some suspicious looking nuggets showing up. He bid on two that just didn't look right. When he received the nuggets they looked good- in fact, they looked too good- but they didn't feel right. When he put the nuggets under a microscope at 20 power he was able to see some suspicious markings and features on these nuggets. There were small rounded BB's, and virtually no scratches whatsoever on the surface. In nature, even if a nugget is very smooth it will still have scratches and dings and dents.

These findings led Dave in a whole new direction. He published four or five pages on his website to inform people of the fake nuggets that were going around. He also published e-mails to him from the manufacturer of these nuggets, his own e-mails to eBay regarding his discovery, and their responses. The policy of eBay is "Buyer, beware," and because of that they could not get involved with his discovery. This prompted him to start his own gold nugget auction site, and with this decision he also decided to change the name of his website to You can still get to the site by typing in as well.

The website has been up and running now for over six years and has over 1,000 members. Every item sold on this site is 100% genuine. There is a chat room as well as a discussion forum on the website. Many of the members are very interactive in pointing out nuggets that they feel are suspicious on other sites. The site has grown from just a means to inform others about manmade nuggets and suspicious items, to a whole community of gold lovers, gold clubs, and gold prospectors who have one proper agenda- to ensure that one of Mother Nature's finest treasures is properly represented. The website is in reality just an extension of his hobby; it's prospecting in a different way. A majority of the members on the site are prospectors, and with genuine gold nuggets on auction, it's like finding a little treasure every time you win!

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