Discovery in the Community Garden

For centuries, literally from the beginning of time perhaps, gold has been coveted as a precious metal. It is the preferred metal for jewelry as you may know, and is also collected in bars and coins for an investment. While it has had its ups and downs as a commodity, over time it has increased in value enormously. Any retirement portfolio becomes diversified and well-rounded if it includes more than stocks and bonds. I am telling you this not because I have started to amass a collection, but because recently I found a gold ring buried in the dirt while planning in a community garden project.

It was a surprise and I imagine it had been there for some time left by an earnest volunteer who probably didn’t realize the loss until she got home. I do hope it was not an engagement or wedding band. That would make me sad. There is no way to find the owner given the public nature of the garden. I didn’t even know if it was real gold or clad. It is pretty enough in any case. The first thing I did was to check for an engraving. This is not usually done on gold-filled jewelry. I found a tiny set of initials but no other hint as to the owner. I still had to test it.

I went searching online and discovered on a Facebook page that people sell their antique jewelry and cast-off gold items at coin dealers who have a magnifying glass that detects the gold mark. I should do this because other methods of testing don’t tell you if it is 10K, 14K, or 18K (the most valuable). I want the fun of trying using a magnet and water. I am not going crazy and getting a spectrometer. It would be most accurate, but let me tell you what I did. First, I bit down on it to determine the hardness and density. It passed the test as far as I could tell but I wasn’t convinced it was fool-proof. I found a strong magnet (forget the weak one on the fridge) in a hardware store.

The point of this test is that gold is not magnetic, so if the found ring pulled toward it, or stuck to it in anyway, it would be a fake or counterfeit. With jewelry, this means it is “costume.” Guess what, the magnet didn’t work so the ring was indeed gold. You don’t call it “pure” as there is always another element. There is less of it in 24K gold for example.

For my little DIY experiment, there was one left. I filled a vial with water and recorded the volume using the millimeter markings on the side. I then immersed the ring and took note of the difference. There is a formula to use to determine density which involves mass/volume displacement. If it is near 19 ml this would indicate real gold. Again, it is not fool-proof as scientific as it is, but fun to do in any case.

I was satisfied over all that the ring was real and ended the testing here. I just enjoy looking at the ring although I haven’t dared to wear it as yet.

New Addition to the Garden

I once took a course at the local community center on conservation and recycling. I thought it was the appropriate thing to do. I already separate plastic bottles and aluminum cans in my trash, but I never knew that you could repurpose so many things at home. Now I thoroughly believe in double duty. Most of what we learned was to reupholster old furniture, fix broken caning on chairs, to replate old silverware for years of additional use, and to make sculptures with wire hangers and small tools. If anything could find a new home in the garden, I would be thrilled. It is my personal paradise as it attracts many beloved butterflies. I spend a lot of time fixing it up. An old metal coffee table (sanded and repainted green) became a garden seat so I could rest my legs during my hours of observation. This happened at certain times of the years when the butterflies were visiting. Some old can lights from the den became outdoor fixtures complete with colored lamps. It made for a mighty pretty environment.

The recycling didn’t end here. A new addition to the outdoor space was part of an old tank from a defunct water heater. It died an untimely death, but in keeping with what I learned about conservation, I wasn’t about to toss it away to become fodder for the overfilled junkyard. That would not be very green of me. I am now an environmentalist to the bone. After pruning the top of the tank down several feet, I had a readymade, perfectly utilitarian garden receptacle. Given the price of large ceramic pots, I was glad to save the money and still get ample space for some trailing flowers. They would grow like a vine and cover most of the white tank. Every time I go out into the garden, I am on Water Heater Watch, looking for butterflies in the flowers that I planted in the old unit. I thought about painting it, but changed my mind. I wanted people who visited my garden to give me credit for my ingenuity. I must tell the conservation course instructor to add this idea to her extensive recycling list. Who knew that a water heater could be a planter?

I now have a tankless water heater and despite of my newfound conservation orientation, I don’t see any way to reuse it when its time has come and gone. But I could hardly have purchased a bulky tank water unit again. I have already repurposed its space and have put in shelves for storage. I will no doubt find many other things to recycle and find a new life. It is a great way to promote family craft time. Each family member can look around the house and find things to refashion into something decorative or useful. Get out the wire cutters, glue, saw, and screwdriver. Add some colored construction paper and crayons for the little ones. The winner gets a prize. Just be sure little Johnny doesn’t raid mom’s makeup kit or little Susie doesn’t take the dog’s collar.