New York man makes $500 a week from gold in pavement cracks
An unemployed jewelry setter has taken to combing the streets of New York with a pair of tweezers to cash in on dropped gems and gold.
The streets of New York may not quite be paved with gold. But one man in America is proving that the cracks on Manhattan pavements really can bear riches.
Raffi Stepanian, 43, has begun crawling around the New York 'Diamond District' on his hands and knees, plucking jewels and fragments of precious metals from between the slabs.
Armed with a pair of tweezers, Mr 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," Mr Stepanian told The Daily Telegraph. "The soil in the sidewalks of 47th street are saturated with the stuff".
Mr Stepanian's haul so far has included chips of diamonds and rubies, bits of platinum, and gold fragments from watches, earrings and necklaces.
He has 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 jewellery falls on the street, and it gets stuck in the mud or the gum," he said.
"It's like a mine, but more concentrated".
Mr Stepanian said that his surgical inspection of pavement cracks had been so fruitful that he had taken 25lb of soil from the area home with him to sift later on.
"Being in the jewellery 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."