Yesterday, I introduced you to a longtime buddy of mine, Matt Bovie. (We all just call him Bovie.)

I told you how he got involved in treasure hunting — and shared with you some of the cool stuff he’s found.

Today, I want to show you some of the more valuable items Bovie has dug up.

Just how valuable? Well, it runs the gamut… He has a number of zirconia earrings, for example, and a diamond one as well. Along with a diamond ring.

Treasure Hunting Diamond

See that? That’s a real diamond. And finding it was a walk in the park — literally.

But the most valuable piece Bovie has is probably a huge emerald ring. He still has to have it appraised by an expert to ensure it’s not glass — but given the quality of the silver setting and the telltale wear on the stone, it’s most likely the real thing.

Treasure Hunting Emerald

Emerald or glass? Given the silver setting and the fact the stone still glints after being in the ground, Bovie’s amateur gemologist friends think emerald.

If yesterday’s article piqued your interest about treasure hunting, then today’s will really whet your appetite. I want you to hear from the man himself — so I transcribed parts of our conversation below.

Read on to find out how you can get started in this fun, fascinating and fruitful avocation.

Ryan Cole (RC): When you’re metal detecting, you said different things sound different. Can you describe some of those sounds?

Matt Bovie (MB): There’s always chatter at first, every little bit of metal makes a sound. Minerals make a sound.

RC: Even just minerals in the dirt?

MB: Yeah, and there are settings on the metal detector that try to zero that out.

Silver screams a really high-pitched, loud, sharp sound — you can almost tell, “Oh, that’s good.”

RC: So you know it’s silver when you hear it?

MB: A lot of times. Especially with coins. It has such a small field of signal, you can figure out the size of what you’re finding.

Copper’s loud. But then things like aluminum, gold and lead all come up with this real frumpy sound in the 50s range. There’s also a number. (Ed note: The number refers to the kilohertz — the frequency of the vibrations coming off the metal.) So silver typically is like 80-plus. That platinum ring I found, it was deep, bad angle on it, but when it hit…

RC: How deep can it read?

MB: It depends on the metal detector. Mine, I have two different coils for it. One of them is larger and goes deeper; the smaller one tends to be better in the city, because of all the trash, and it can really narrow down one signal from another.

But I think the deepest I’ve found a coin was about 14 inches down.

And that coin was from the 1700s — among the oldest coins from America. The signal was not strong, there were other signals there. But this one sound kept coming through, so I kept digging and digging, got into clay, it was a real pain to get out of the ground — totally worth it.

Revolutionary War Coin

Among the earliest coins minted in the Americas — from Virginia in the 1700s, pre-Revolution.

RC: Do you just dig with a shovel?

MB: I used to use the hand trowels from Home Depot, stuff like that. They’d bend, snap, whatever. What I use now is the equivalent of a trench knife. It’s never bent and I’ve had it five years.

RC: Have you ever sold any of these things?

MB: Nope — I collect them all. I actually have a treasure chest I keep things in. It was a gift for my birthday — someone knew this was my hobby.

RC: Do you know what the most valuable thing you have is?

MB: No — that’s not really why I do it. When you get an exciting sound, you can’t wait to see what it is. Most of the time it’s disappointing. The reality is you find a lot of trash. But then sometimes you find a winner — that’s how I found this gold ring.

The only reason I dug it — it was in this really hard area to dig — is because it was really shallow. And as the saying goes, you dig everything ’cause you don’t know. And it sounded like a little piece of aluminum foil or the top to a soda can — whatever. But I flipped it over, and it was an inch down, and it was a gold ring.

RC: How do you decide where to dig?

MB: I spend a lot of time in parks, old parks. There’s part of Herring Run Park where they buried a ton of debris from the Great Baltimore Fire.

Always look for old dirt. Ask your friends, “What year was your house built?” Although even that doesn’t necessarily matter ’cause you look at old maps — northeast Baltimore was all old farms. People were dropping things then, too.

There’s one house that I was working on (Ed note: Bovie is also a handyman) and they were pulling up the sidewalk. The house itself was from the ’30s and the sidewalk was pretty old, and I did find some Wheat pennies and Mercury dimes.

I tried going downtown where they were ripping up old streets — worthless. There are all types of trash, and all these loud sounds from the iron or steel infrastructure.

I like doing yards more than the parks — parks are full of trash. But probably the oldest stuff is from parks.

RC: Thanks, Bovie, good luck on your searches!

MB: Thanks, man.

If you want to give treasure hunting a try, you can get a starter metal detector for a few hundred dollars (the best go well into the thousands).

Practice listening to different metals before you go out. Take items you know are made of solid copper, gold, etc., and run the metal detector over them to get used to the sounds your device emits.

Then get out there and see what you find! Places where people go into their pockets often — sidewalks, near entrances, unpaved parking lots — are target-rich environments.

Unconventionally yours,

Ryan Cole

Ryan Cole
Editor-in-chief, Unconventional Wealth

P.S. From interesting curiosities to bona fide valuable pieces of history… If you want to explore this world, there’s no better place to start than the forums of JustCollecting, where many of the world’s foremost collectible experts spend their time.

Ryan Cole

Ryan Cole is the editor-in-chief of Unconventional Wealth. He’s been covering the alternative investment space for nearly a decade and writing about finance and investment for almost 20 years.

Ryan has walked the walk for years, living a very unconventional life. He’s led snowmobile tours through the mountains of Colorado, settled in Japan for five...

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