Golden Pavement Cracks


"Streets of New York paved with gold? One man finds $500 worth a week."

Telegraph, Jon Swaine

The streets of New York may not quite be paved with gold. But one American man is proving the cracks on Manhattan pavements really can bear riches.

gold on the street

Raffi Stepanian, 43, has begun crawling around New York's Diamond District on his hands and knees, plucking jewels and fragments of precious metals from between the slabs.

Armed with a pair of tweezers, Stepanian, an unemployed diamond setter from Queens, claims to have collected $1,010 (623) worth in the past fortnight.

"I'm surviving on it," he said. "I may be about to trigger a new gold rush on the streets of New York," he said, adding, "The soil in the sidewalks of 47th street are saturated with the stuff."

Stepanian's haul thus far has included chips of diamonds and rubies, bits of platinum and gold fragments from watches, earrings and necklaces.

He's sold most of his discoveries to metal refiners or diamond sellers, while keeping some gold with a view to melting it down for future use.

"You might get $30 per piece, but it all adds up," he said.

"It is a rich area and people simply drop things, or their jewelry falls on the street, and it gets stuck in the mud or the gum," he said.

"It's like a mine, but more concentrated."

Stepanian said that his surgical inspection of pavement cracks had been so fruitful that he had taken 25 lb. soil from the area home with him to sift later.

"Being in the jewelry industry for 26 years, it was second nature to spot glistening fragments on the floors and in elevators," he said.

"It was always tempting to pick them up. Now that's what I'm doing."

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