Amazing Gold Detector Finds From the Iron Age to Present

When your metal detector finds gold, it can make you giddy with excitement. From natural gold nuggets to a buried gold hoard, gold finds can send the heart racing. You may be able to fund your detectorist lifestyle with your gold finds. Yet, not all metal detector discoveries are worth money. Just finding gold can be a victory when you are an amateur treasure hunter on the hunt for gold. Here is a look at some outstanding metal detector gold finds from treasure hunters and prospectors. A look at the best metal detector finds gold made by our customers and other famous treasure hunters is presented in this article.

How Do Metal Detectors Find Gold?

A gold prospecting metal detector is an electronic device that is used to detect the presence of lost treasure while gold detecting in an area. Metal detectors are commonly used to find old coins, jewelry, a gold object or a silver coin, buried treasure, and other metallic objects. Metal detectors can also be used to find buried treasure, such as gold nuggets.

Metal detectors find gold by detecting the metal's conductivity. Gold is a highly conductive metal, which means it can be easily detected by a gold metal detector

There are two main types of gold prospecting metal detectors: pulse induction (PI detectors) and very low frequency (VLF detectors). Both will detect both ferrous metals and non ferrous metals. By using the ground balance control and updating as you metal detect, you can tune out the mineral effects from the ground.

Pulse induction metal detectors are more expensive, but they are also more sensitive to gold. They work by using a search coil to send out a magnetic field that penetrates the ground. When the field comes into contact with a conductive object, such as gold, it creates a pulse of electricity that is detected by the metal detector

Finding gold can be as simple as searching your private property or going on a gold prospecting adventure in a known gold-producing area. If you're lucky, your finds may be displayed in an art gallery or national museum.

The best metal detectors for gold prospecting include:

  • Fisher Gold Bug
  • Garrett AT Gold Detector
  • Nokta Makro Gold Kruzer
  • Garrett Axiom
  • Garrett ATX

Extraordinary Gold Finds With a Metal Detector

Treasure hunting and gold prospecting with a metal detector are a popular hobbies for many people. Some people are lucky enough to find valuable objects, like a Roman coin or other antiquity from the Roman Empire, Civil War coins or buttons, a King Henry III gold penny, or a sunken Spanish treasure.

While most people don't find anything more valuable than a few coins, there have been some extraordinary metal detector finds over the years. If you would like to add some exceptional finds to your list, read our list of metal detecting tips to brush up on your skills.

Here are some of the most incredible gold finds: 

The Sutton Hoo Helmet

The Sutton Hoo helmet is a gold helmet of Anglo-Saxon date worn by King Raedwald of East Anglia. It is one of the most spectacular artifacts to survive from early medieval England and one of only four known Anglo-Saxon helmets. The Sutton Hoo Helmet is currently displayed in the British Museum in London.

The Sutton Hoo helmet was found during the excavations of the royal burial site at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, England. The helmet was buried with several other artifacts, including a shield, sword, and spears. The helmet is made of gold and silver and is decorated with intricate designs. The helmet has been dated to the early seventh century and is thought to have belonged to King Raedwald of East Anglia.

An Unreported Find

According to Gareth Williams, medieval coins and Viking collections curator for the British Museum, four men are facing years in prison for failing to report Viking treasure worth an estimated $3 million. Police claim that the discovery has national significance for Anglo-Saxon coinage and enhanced knowledge of a critical period in British history. The men made their discovery in Herefordshire, in the West Midlands of England.

Pre-Viking Gold

In 2021, A novice archaeologist discovered 22 gold items with sixth-century symbols that may provide new information about pre-Viking peoples in Denmark, according to Mads Ravn, director of research at Denmark's Vejle museums in western Denmark.

Some of the objects feature runic patterns and inscriptions that may refer to the rulers of the period or Norse mythology. The gold objects will be on display at the museum in Vejle from February 2022.

Little Bighorn Gold Ring

In Little Bighorn in the United States, a volunteer archaeologist discovered a finger bone with a gold ring still on it. The bone and ring were said to come from the year 1876 when the Sioux killed Lieutenant Colonel George Custer's troops in what is now known as the Battle of Little Bighorn. 

Missing class ring

On June 16, 2013, Josh Kimmel was hired to locate a missing class ring. Having located previous class rings for people, Kimmel was sought out to find a piece of jewelry that had been missing for six years. Kimmel didn’t hold much hope as the gravel area in which the ring was presumed lost was littered with metal and aluminum rubbish. After expanding his search, Kimmel located the ring buried three inches in the gravel drive. It was cleaned and returned to its rightful owner.

Underwater bracelet

Detectorist Matt Kwiatkowski went artifact hunting at a nearby lake in Winder, Georgia. While searching around the floating tubes, Kwiatkowski got a foil signal and began to scoop. What he found was a 14ct gold bracelet. The 8.8-gram piece of jewelry was the first gold bracelet of Kwiatkowski’s detecting career.

All that glimmers is gold

Kwiatkowski explored another beach area around Winder and made another incredible discovery. Using an AT Pro, Kwiatkowski got a 44 to 50 reading while searching the water. After a couple of scoop attempts, the detectorist found another gold bracelet. Examination by a jeweler confirmed that Kwiatkowski had located a 21ct gold bracelet.

First gold find

It is always great when your metal detector finds gold, but it is even better when it is your first-ever discovery. Tommy Decker had only been using his metal detector for two months when he made his first gold find. Decker searched the volleyball courts at a park near his Chicago apartment. Using an ACE 150, he got a hit and found a small gold ring in the sand. The discover has Decker hooked on being a detectorist.

Gold and diamonds

David Baker was nearing the end of the metal hunting year due to the cold weather and frozen ground around Olathe, Kansas. However, having some warm weather, Baker decided to get outside to hunt at a local park. Baker had already experienced metal detecting success at the park’s basketball courts and hoped to make more useful finds. Using a Fisher F2 with eight-inch coil, Baker got a strong hit. A quick dig led to a ring. Initially believing it to be silver, Baker quickly realized it was a white gold ring. Making the 14ct white gold ring even better was its four diamonds. Baker had the ring appraised and it was claimed to be worth a retail price of $1,299.

Beginner’s luck

One of the great things about metal detecting is that it is perfect for people of any age. Mark Clarke, an avid detectorist, took his nine-year-old daughter, Anna, to do a search of a local park in Mansfield, Ohio. Anna used Mark’s Ace 250 and quickly got a strong hit near an entrance to the park. Using a trowel, Anna dug up a 14ct gold men’s wedding band. After making the find, Anna wants to be just like her dad, and search for artifacts and treasure like medallions and who knows, one day, maybe even some roman coins.

Tiffany and Co.

According to Cody Walton, his hometown of Portland, Oregon has been searched long and hard by detectorists for years. It can be difficult to find anything of value. After two hours of searching a park and school area that dated back to the early 1900s, Walton got a nickel hit. Walton dug out a pendant that he originally though was worthless. After making several unexpected finds, Walton returned home with a bag of items to clean off. His wife took a liking to the pendant and ran it under water to clean it. Turns out, Walton had found a Tiffany 18ct gold earring containing diamonds. On this occasion, Walton’s metal detector finds gold and diamonds.

Gold from heaven

Brazil is famed for its beaches which attract millions of people each year. With all of the sand and people, there are plenty of hidden treasures just waiting to be discovered. In 2014, Angelo Cantalupo Santos made a fantastic discovery. While searching a Sao Paulo beach at night, he got a strong hit. Santos dug into the beach’s wet sand and found a pure gold crucifix. It was a find sent from heaven.

A family affair

Metal detecting is always better with a loved one and it is even better when your metal detector finds gold. In 2018, Randy Stonerock and his granddaughter searched an old schoolyard. It didn’t take long for Stonerock to get a 40 signal on his metal detector. His granddaughter began to dig a hole around two inches deep. Inside, she found the glimmer of a gold ring. The ring was appraised at 10ct and had a Tourmaline stone setting.

More than money

Sometimes, metal detecting is about more than finding gold and silver. In 2014, Tom Lynch took his brand-new Bounty Hunter Metal Detector into his backyard for a test run. Years prior, Lynch’s mother had built and kept a rock garden in the backyard. After swinging the Bounty Hunter for a few minutes, Lynch got a hit. He dug three inches and found a gold coin looking back at him. It was a metal disk that had come with the plants Lynch’s mom had planted all those years ago. His very first find was the most valuable for all the right reasons.

Five dollar piece

Many detectorists will spend hours searching parking lots or the areas around them for valuable items. In 2019, Robert located a brilliant five-dollar piece dating back to 1895 in the parking lot of a Chattahoochee, Florida business. His Coinmaster metal detector also located a few other items during the search including car wash tokens.

Gold Doubloon

Thomas Pilotte hit a local Rhode Island beach with a Mark II Sea Hunter in 2019. Two years earlier, he had bought the Mark II Sea Hunter but grew frustrated with it. It sat in its box after that initial use. Upon pulling it out of the box for a second try, Pilotte got a loud signal. He dug 14 inches into the ground and located a Reale Gold Doubloon. The funny part about the gold doubloon was that when Pilotte opened the box to his new Mark II Sea Hunter two years before, inside was a replica coin of the one he found. Freaky! You never know what will happen when your metal detector finds gold.

Other Notable World Gold Finds

Iron Age Gold Finds

Ole Ginnerup Schytz found over 20 gold artifacts dated to the Iron Age. A staggering two pounds of gold objects were found by him. The find was located in Vindelev, near Jelling in central Denmark. It is estimated that they were buried more than 1,500 years ago. This hoard is on display at the Vejlemuseerne museum in Denmark. It is by far one of the largest, most beautiful and most valuable gold treasures in Danish history. 

Santa Margarita Gold Chalice

Key West treasure hunter Mel Fisher turned up the first Santa Margarita artifacts in 1980. An ancient gold chalice was recovered by salvagers from his team during a search for wreckage from a Spanish galleon that went down off the Florida Keys in 1622. Michael Bernzweig of Detector Electronics Corp. met Mel Fisher and toured his impressive museum of shipwreck finds in 1993. The Santa Margarita Gold Chalice find was valued at over one Million dollars. Fisher passed away in  1998 at the age of aged 76 and is remembered as one of the greatest shipwreck treasure hunters of all time.

Mojave Nugget

A prospector named Ty Paulsen found the Mojave Nugget. The find has been valued at almost half a million dollars. Overall, it is the largest gold nugget discovered in California to date. The nugget was discovered in 1977 by Paulsen. This massive nugget weighs 172 ounces. It is part of the Margie and Robert Petersen collection of gold nuggets. A total of 1,834 ounces of gold make up the collection, which consists of over 100 pieces of gold. Currently, the collection resides at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum.

The Boot of Cortez

The largest gold nugget in the Western Hemisphere is the Boot of Cortez. The gold find weighs over 380 astonishing ounces. The nugget has the shape or appearance of an old leather boot. A prospector discovered the nugget in Mexico in 1989. A very basic metal detector was used to find it in the Sonoran Desert. Over one and a half million dollars was paid at auction just after Y2K for the Boot of Cortez nugget. 

Vindelev Hoard

There are small round medallions called bracteates in the Vindelev Hoard. These bracteates are all highly decorated with ornate artwork. The treasure also contained a large number of ancient Roman coins. Many of the gold coins were made into beautiful pieces of jewelry. One of the bracteates bears the head of a male, several runes, and a horse and a bird. The runic inscription on the horse appears to read "the high one" or "the god Odin," depending on interpretation.

Staffordshire Treasure Hoard

The Staffordshire Treasure Hoard, as noted in our article on this remarkable find, "The Hoard itself was valued at nearly 5 Million dollars under the provisions of the 1996 Treasure Act. Once a buyer was found, the amount would be split between Herbert, the detectorist who made the initial discovery, and Johnson, the landowner who had given Herbert permission to detect in his fields. Typically a collection of such marquee historical artifacts might have been expected to be purchased by and displayed at a major national museum, such as the British Museum. Still, in this instance, there was a drive to keep the Staffordshire Hoard in the locality."

Not all of the best treasures are worth a lot of money. For sure, some of the best finds have been uncovered by archaeologists in locations around the world from England to Australia and Denmark among other locations. In reality the vast majority of gold finds have been found by ordinary ordinary metal detectorist like you and I who have just contacted the landowner and begun their hunt. Sometimes when your metal detector finds gold, it can lead to a nice payday, while other times, it offers a memorable moment. Regardless, metal detecting for gold remains a favorite pastime for many detectorists.