Digging for Diamonds
Where can diamonds be found? The answer might surprise you. Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park is the only diamond-producing site in the world where the public can search for diamonds. And the policy here is "finders, keepers," meaning the diamonds you find are yours to keep.
To hunt for diamonds you will search atop a 37 1/2-acre plowed field, the eroded surface of an ancient, gem-bearing volcanic crater. You will access this field through the Diamond Discovery Center, an engaging interpretive center featuring exhibits and an A/V program explaining the three most popular methods of searching for diamonds. The park staff provides free identification and certification of diamonds found here.
A few facts about diamonds in Arkansas:The first diamond was found here in 1906 by John Huddleston, the farmer who owned the property at that time. The Crater of Diamonds has changed hands several times over the years and several unsuccessful attempts have been made at commercial mining. All such ventures are shrouded in mystery. Lawsuits, lack of money, and fires are among the reasons suspected for these failures. This site was operated privately, and later as a tourist attraction, from 1952 to 1972. In 1972, the State of Arkansas purchased the Crater of Diamonds for development as a state park. The park is open throughout the year except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.
Pets are allowed in all park facilities, with the exception of the park gift shop, Diamond Springs Water Park, and Kimberlite Cafe, as long as they remain on a leash under the owner's control at all times.
The diamond-bearing soil in the diamond search area is plowed periodically when weather allows to help bring more diamonds to the surface. Plowing is unscheduled but generally takes place once a month during spring, summer, and fall. Historical structures, old mining equipment, washing pavilions, and sun shelters are located on the field. Diamond mining tools are available for rent or purchase at the park.
Fees to search for Diamonds
|Children (ages 6-12):
|Children under 6 years old:
Admission is good for the entire day. You may come and go throughout the day on the same admission fee. Tickets purchased after 4:00 p.m. are still good for admission the following day.
Organized groups of 15 or more may receive half price admission if the park is notified in advance of visit. From Memorial Day through Labor Day tickets purchased after 6 p.m. are also good for the following day. NOTE: Organized groups do not include large family groups.
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What Should I Bring?
Where can diamonds be found within the park? Visitors have found plenty of gems both on top of and in the soil. Tools are not necessary for diamond seeking, and a good way to search is to walk up and down the rows looking for diamonds lying on top of the ground. However, most diamond hunters like to dig in the soil. Therefore, you have the options of bringing your own tools from home, or you may purchase or rent tools here at the park.
You may use anything that is not battery or motor operated for transporting equipment in and out of the search area. Park visitors bring anything from small flowerbed trowels to full size shovels for digging. Some choose to make their own sifting screens and bring them.
If you choose to get tools at the park, you may purchase small flowerbed trowels and cultivators at the park. If you prefer renting tools, the park offers several different size shovels and screens from which to choose. The most commonly rented items are listed below. Along with the rental fee, a deposit is charged on each item. This deposit is refunded when the equipment is returned in good condition.
Rental equipment is available at the Diamond Discovery Center and includes the items listed below. Rental prices are per day and tax is not included.
Rental Equipment Available Throughout the Year
||Daily rent plus tax
|Small wooden box screen
|3.5 gallon plastic bucket
|Folding army shovel
|Saruca (finishing screen)
|Basic Diamond Hunting Kit
|(folding shovel, screen set, 3.5 gallon bucket)
|Advanced Diamond Hunting Kit
|(folding shovel, screen set, 3.5 gallon bucket, saruca)
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What Should I Wear?
Digging for diamonds can be messy. If the dirt in the search area is wet, you will need some old shoes or boots because the field will be very muddy. In the summer, a hat and sunscreen are recommended.
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What Do Diamonds Look Like?
How do you know if you've found treasure in our Arkansas diamond mine? First study the basic attributes of diamonds found at the Crater:
Diamonds found at the Crater are typically smooth and well rounded. Their shape resembles a polished stone with smooth sides and rounded edges.
The average size of a diamond is about the size of a paper match head, approximately 20-25 points weight. Points are a measurement of diamond weight. There are 100 points in a carat. Look for something small. A 1-carat diamond is about the size of a green pea, based on its crystal shape.
Diamonds feel like they have an oily film on them. This characteristic prevents diamonds from being dirty. Diamonds have a metallic luster like new steel or lead. They will not be clear like glass. They do not have a solid dull look like the jasper. Diamonds are translucent. You can typically see into them but not through them.
The colors of diamonds found here are white, brown, and yellow, in that order.
The park offers free rock and mineral identification at the Diamond Discovery Center. Diamonds are weighed and certified free of charge for the finder.
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What is a Carat?
This unit of weight for precious stones is equal to 200 milligrams. It is thought that the name carat was derived from the carob tree. Carob trees are native to the Old World (Asia, Africa, and Europe) and are known for their uniformly-sized seeds. Gemstones, including diamonds, were weighed for years against these seeds. A diamond weighing less than one carat would be measured in points. One hundred points equal one carat. A diamond weighing more than one carat would be listed as the whole carat number, plus the number of points. For example, a diamond that was one carat and 25 points would be listed as 1.25 carats.
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How Do I Search for Diamonds?
How you search for diamonds usually depends on how much time you have to search or weather conditions at the park.
There are three methods of diamond searching. Surface searching consists of walking up and down the rows of dirt looking for diamonds lying on top of the ground. This is the most productive method following a hard rain. Rain washes the soil away, leaving diamonds and other rocks and minerals exposed on the surface.
Most visitors like to dig in the soil and screen for diamonds. This usually involves searching through the first six inches to one foot of soil. Visitors can turn the soil over with a small hand tool while looking in the loose soil. Some visitors like to use a screen to sift the soil.
The third method of diamond hunting requires a lot of hard work, and previous experience is helpful. This method is usually preferred by the repeat or regular visitor, and involves digging deep holes, removing the right type soil, washing the soil in a series of screens and patiently hand sorting the concentrated gravels from the screens. Some searchers look for low areas in the field where diamonds may have settled out over the years, or for tailings from the earlier commercial mining plants of the 20's and 30's. Tailings are the waste gravel that went out of the plant. Over the years, these tailing piles were covered by topsoil. The experienced regular hunters look for the tiny gravel, dig it up and wash it again by hand, looking for the small diamonds.
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Are the Diamonds Valuable?
The park staff can identify and provide facts about diamonds; however, they are neither trained nor have the equipment to assess the value of a diamond. Generally, the monetary value of a diamond rests in the possibility of the diamond being cut. For example, the 3.03-carat Strawn-Wagner Diamond found at the park in 1990 was cut and graded D Flawless, the highest grade a diamond can achieve. Should you find a large diamond suitable for cutting, you will want to locate a jeweler and/or gemologist who can serve as your agent to work with a diamond cutter.
Most diamonds found here at the park are generally too small to be cut. However, they will be valued and unique souvenirs of your trip to Arkansas's diamond site. Diamonds from the park are often mounted in jewelry in their natural uncut form. When diamonds are left in their raw form, one popular method of displaying a rough diamond is to have it mounted in a pendant to be worn around the neck.
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