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Boy Unearths Big Bucks [Kids Today / USA Today]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Kids Today / USA Today

Lawrence Shields had quite summer. While sifting through a bucket of dirt, he found a sapphire worth at least $37,000.

The 10-year-old was visiting his great-grandparents in Asheville, N.C., and asked if the family could go to a mine that lets you dig for a fee. His mom and grandparents sat on a porch while Shields and his dad went through three buckets of through, which cost $10 each.

“When we got to the last bucket, that’s when I found it,” says Shields, who is going into fifth grade fifth grade at View Elementary School in Fairfax, Va. “It was big, about the size of a tennis ball. And it was black with some brown spots the color of mud. I want kids to know what it looked like in case they go digging for gems.”

Shields thought the rock was magnetite—a rock he had studied in science. But when went into the mine’s jewelry store for confirmation, the gemologist gave him the good news. It was a 1,061-carat sapphire.

“I thought she was just joking,” Shields admits. “When (the truth) finally sunk in, I was in shock—and then I got very excited.”

Shields doesn’t know exactly how much the precious stone is worth. If it is a star sapphire, it could be nearly $100,000. Right now, it’s sitting in a safety deposit box in a local bank and the Shields’ are looking for a buyer.

His mom Maria already has plans for the dough. She’d like to buy a computer for Shields and put the rest into a college fund for Shields.

Shields has a few ideas of his own. “More than anything, I’d like to buy a fishing boat,” he says. “I’d name her The Sapphire.”

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"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.

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