How to Dig Gypsum Desert Roses

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Gypsum crystals form in parts of the desert where moisture becomes temporarily trapped in pockets. As the water evaporates, minerals and sand crystallize into petal formations, creating sand-colored roses. Saudi Arabia, Namibia and Qatar contain prime conditions for creating these lovely geographic gems. Tourists may hire guides to take them to areas where they may dig up their own desert roses. Visitors to most areas where desert roses are found may take only a kilogram of material. One desert rose may be all you get to keep.

Things You'll Need

  • Small trowel
  • Knee pads
  • Basket
  • Choose a digging area about five feet from the water source in the area. If there is no water source, look for small salt or sand crystals on the surface of the sand. You may also choose an area where the sand looks flat and solid.

  • Put on knee pads to protect your joints as you dig. Gently scrape aside a single layer of sand or tiny crystals. If the sand is hard packed because of recent flooding, resist the temptation to chop and break it up with your trowel, which may damage a rose just beneath the surface.

  • Continue digging by scraping away light layers of sand. The depth of your digging may range from 3 inches to 3 feet. When your trowel uncovers petal-like crystals, set it aside.

  • Gently loosen the sand around the rose, pushing it away with your fingers. Find the edges of the rose and work your fingers slowly underneath, digging away the sand around it. Lift the rose gently from the sand and set it in a basket. Your guide may weigh your prize.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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