5 Items in Nature With Enormous Finder Fees

I realize times are tough and jobs are scarce right now.

With the rising price of gold pushing $1300 per ounce and continuing to break records, maybe you should consider heading out into the wilderness in hopes of finding a stray nugget or two.

Then again, if you aren’t in the mood for gold prospecting, keep in mind there are lots of other natural riches out there waiting to be found that can put  a decent amount of cash into your wallet.   That is, assuming you know where to look for them.

Here are five items in nature that have some of the biggest finders fees.   Who knows.      A couple of these might even be hiding in your own backyard right now:

1. Truffles

The Bling Meter: Truffles can sell for more than $6000 per ounce.   A very large truffle fetched a record $330,000 in 2007.
Why They’re So Expensive: Truffles, which are fungal fruiting bodies, are expensive because they are very difficult to cultivate.
Where to Look: Under trees such as beech, poplar, oak, birch, hornbeam, hazel and pine.   They’ll be hiding between the soil and leaf litter.   Be sure to bring a truffle hog or a dog trained for sniffing them out.
(Reality) Check, Please: While difficult, truffle cultivation is becoming more successful over time, which may soon result in lower prices.

2. Saliva nests

The Bling Meter: The “red blood” variety can fetch up to $285 per ounce.
Why They’re So Expensive: “Saliva nests” are real birds’ nests that come from a species of cave swift.   The nests, which are the key component of a Chinese delicacy called bird’s nest soup, are made from a glutinous substance in the bird’s saliva.   Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough cave swifts in the world to satisfy demand.
Where to Look: Unless you plan on robbing a commercial swift nesting house in Thailand, the Philippines or elsewhere, you should probably try the limestone caves of Borneo.
(Reality) Check, Please: At approximately 10 grams each, you can fetch about $45 per “red blood” nest on the open market.

3. Saffron

The Bling Meter: Costco was recently selling a 14-gram bottle online for $85.   That’s approximately $172 per ounce.
Why They’re So Expensive: The major expense is due to the extensive labor required to produce and harvest it.
Where to Look: The saffron crocus prefers locations with semi-arid lands with hot-dry summer breezes.
(Reality) Check, Please: It takes 80,000 saffron flowers to make one pound of the spice.

4. Meteorites

The Bling Meter: Lunar or Martian meteorites can bring over $50,000 per ounce.
Why They’re So Expensive: Not only are meteorites much rarer than precious metals and other stones, but they are also harder to find because they aren’t clustered in veins. Instead, they reside in completely random locations.
Where to Look: Although they can be found anywhere, locations with an arid climate, such as the US desert southwest are best.   That’s because the dry air is better suited for the preservation of meteorites.
(Reality) Check, Please:   There have only been 1600 meteorites ever found in the United States – and only 50,000 worldwide.

5. Sturgeon eggs

The Bling Meter: The top grade of beluga caviar can run over $225 per ounce.
Why They’re So Expensive: The beluga sturgeon is an endangered species and, as a result, only 100 or so are captured each year.
Where to Look: You’ll need to charter a fishing boat on the Caspian Sea.
(Reality) Check, Please: The price of caviar is expected to rise substantially in the coming years due to shrinking supplies.   (It’s a good thing I prefer cheeseburgers.)


  1. 2


    Why did I think truffles were some chocolate dessert? I had no idea they were part of the fungus family and very rare! I guess I just learned something that could equate to cash. 😉

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    I can’t wait for my husband to get home so I can spring on him our next “get rich quick scheme”! Saffron! We live in the perfect climate. Now all we have to do is plant those 80,000 flowers and let the dough roll in! heeeeee

  3. 4


    I have often wondered why delicious chocolate and fungi have the same name.

    Thank God I too have simple tastes. I watched a show once that featured the most expensive meals you could buy, and truffles and caviar were on the menu. These people paid 20,000 dollars for their meal, or something ridiculous like that.

  4. 5

    Sharon says

    I still can’t understand the appeal of caviar. I had it once before at a fancy party I went to and hated it!

  5. 6

    Jenna says

    @Len – How much for saffron covered surgeon eggs, sauted in truffle oil and served with bird’s nest soup on a bowl made of meteorite?

  6. 10


    I had Mac and Cheese with shaved truffles at a local restaurant. Heavenly! And I hate mac and cheese-grew up eating Kraft every other meal.

    My profession may become as rare as those things you listed above, if things keep going as they are! My peers are retiring like flies…:)

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    @Olivia: Okay, you stumped the dummy. What is curbside gleaning?
    @LittleHouse: I don’t think you’re alone, Jen! In any case, the only truffles I’ve ever eaten are the chocolate ones.
    @Mrs. A: Good luck with that. Let me know how it turns out.
    @Everyday: Not sure either, Kris.
    @Jenna: I hope that was a rhetorical question. LOL
    @Dr. Dean: “Retiring like flies.” Oh, Dr. Dean… I hope you don’t mind me saying that you can officially put me down as a big fan of both mac & cheese AND mangled metaphors (that is usually my area of expertise – glad to know I’m not alone.) 😉
    @Greg: I guess so. Your neck of the woods would be “prime” real estate for finding them.
    @MFO: Funny thing is, most people probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a meteorite and a common stone even if they saw one.

  8. 15

    deb says

    I love curbside gleaning too. I am amazed at how much useful and sometimes valuable stuff folks will just put out at the curb as trash.

    I have a really big 74 pickup. I will sometimes run the trash route ahead of the trash man and take nice furniture etc to the fireman’s stash. Which is a place run by fire dept to give decent used items away to those who need them but cannot afford to buy them. Or who lost everything in fire. In most states, when an item is placed in trash the owner has surrendered ownership so you can take it.

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