By Emily Zeugner
Last summer Roy Evans, history buff, outdoorsman and "amateur treasure hunter," set off in search of buried riches.
Five hours a day, he scoured the fine, white sands of Georgia's Tybee Island and within a week he'd struck gold: 23 separate pieces including two crosses, 12 rings, a handful of medallions and broaches and one chain necklace — a bounty worth several thousand dollars at least.
Roy Evans switched entirely to beaches for his treasure hunting about 15 years ago, when he 'just got too old to fool around with picks and mosquitoes and snakes' on Revolutionary War battlefields.
The change has proved to be a lucrative one: all told he's found 150 diamond rings on beaches, including two that were appraised for nearly $4,000 each.
"It was amazing, what I found that week," said Evans, of Greer, S.C. "It might have been a new record for me."
But the loot wasn't buried by pirates.
The jewelry, like countless other valuables all over the country, was lost by distracted and forgetful sunbathers, tucked into a shoe or under a corner of a beach blanket before a swim only to be misplaced in the confusion at the end of the day.
To cash in, Evans needed only luck, a little patience and his trusty MineLab metal detector.
This summer, amateur treasure hunters predict the beaches will be filled with people just like Evans.
Lured by the skyrocketing price of gold — now well over $900 an ounce — and the thrill of serendipity, new would-be treasure diggers are joining the ranks of experienced beach "metal detectionists," as they call themselves, in what might be a modern-day gold rush.