Gold is among the few valuable minerals, gems, and gemstones that show up looking beguiling upon first discovery—no need for polish to dazzle. It's mined on every continent except Antarctica. North Carolina started the American craze in the early 1800s with the discovery of single nuggets weighing up to 28 pounds—yes, pounds. Two centuries later, and there are still plenty of public lands open to hand-powered prospecting. You can even search for the coordinates of gold mining operations online, and that's not the only convenience that makes gold panning more feasible today.