Over the past few days hundreds of people rushed to Houzhang, a small village in China‘s Zhejiang Province, in search of precious rubies. About a thousand people went to the village on June 20th carrying with them equipment including hoes, shovels and flashlights.
Houzhang’s “ruby rush” began a few days ago when a netizen wrote on his WeChat account that residents of Houzhang village had found small rubies in the earth, some of which were allegedly worth up to 25,000 RMB (around 3,800 USD). Local villagers began excavating the ground, hoping to make a fortune overnight, but as the news spread, they were soon joined by scores of people from outside the town.
According to local reports, over a thousand people rushed to the village on June 19 alone, digging not only at daytime, but also during the night: they have heard that in the darkness the rubies are easier to spot because they reflect the flashlights. Whether young or old, male or female, all take part in the treasure hunt.
However, local villagers complain that the hundreds of ruby-diggers are destroying their crops: tea leaves, corn, watermelons and peanuts. But they seem resigned to the fact that they cannot stop the tide of daily visitors.
The authorities in Pan’an County, to which the village belongs, asked experts to go to the site and analyze the composition of the rubies. They experts found out that what the stones the villagers have excavated are red corundum, a crystalline form of aluminium oxide. On the market these rubies are worth just around 100 RMB (around 15 USD) apiece.
Due to the environmental damage that the excavations are causing to the farm crops, the local government has urged the ruby-diggers to return home, thus putting an end to their short-lived dreams of wealth.