Arkansas's most important gem material is quartz. Exceptional pieces of clear crystal are made into jewelry. In addition to quartz, Arkansas produces agates, jasper, petrified wood, and a few minor gemstones. But this mine, the most famous mine of the state, is extraordinary. This is the only active diamond mine in the US and the only diamond mine in the world where any amateur rockhound can mine their diamonds.
As a tribute to rockhounding, a vital mineral prospecting activity and a fun hobby in the US, we wrote several articles with up-to-date information on locations and requirements. Part 1 covers everything about rockhounding as a hobby, Part 2 covers where we expose the places to find rubies, sapphires, and Herkimer diamonds, and Part 3 describes the sites for some rough gem hunting for the sturdiest rockhounds. This part is fully dedicated to mining diamonds in the US.
Crater of Diamonds State Park, Murfreesboro, Arkansas
The Crater of Diamonds is the only existing diamond mining location where you can pay a fee, mine your stones and keep everything you find. The diamonds in the park can occur in the soil, so some of them can be found by merely sifting through mud and dirt. Some visitors share experiences of finding small sparkling stones on the surface after the rain, simply by walking across the field, looking for reflections in the unearthed and washed stones. The search can be not too effort-demanding, but most people do not find a diamond during their visit. It would help if you had some luck, a lot of patience, and a very sharp eye to detect a stone. As with any diamond deposits, the majority of your finds will be tiny and contain inclusions, but there are occasional valuable finds as well.
If you want to do some harder work for a more promising reward, you can rent some tools for deeper digging. After collecting some ground and rocks, you use the panning method to separate your diamonds from the rest. The park staff can help you to check and evaluate your finds at the end of the day.
Valuable Finds Discovered In The Crater Of Diamonds
Most visitors do not find a diamond, but prospecting is a thrill. Since the park's opening to visitors in 1972, there were several million visits, finding 30,000 stones with an average weight of 0.20 carat. It means that most of the diamonds are tiny - it is impossible to polish or facet them. The odds of finding a diamond of 1 carat or larger is 1 in about 6,700.
The biggest diamond ever mined in the US was found here during an early mining operation in 1924. The white diamond of 40 carats was named Uncle Sam. In 2015, the fifth-largest diamond was found in the Crater of Diamonds by Brooke Oskarson of Colorado. The diamond was named Esperanza. It is white in color and has good clarity.
Geology Of The Crater Of Diamonds
The Crater of Diamonds is part of a volcanic pipe of a 95-million-year-old eroded volcano, full of lamproite. The diamonds were crystallized deep under the continent. Then the xenoliths (diamond-containing rocks) were "picked up" and brought to the surface by the erupting magma. As any soils of volcanic origin, the park soils carry some minor stones - quartz (the most heartbreaking find as visitors easily confuse it with diamonds), agate, garnet, and jasper.
The Lucky Diamond Farmer
Long before the park got its present name, these grounds were a farm that belonged to John Huddlestone. In 1906, he found two strange crystals in the soil. He suspected the stones could be valuable and brought them to the jeweler. When the word of the discovery got out, thousands of people rushed to the Murfreesboro area. To no avail, the Huddlestone farm and the adjacent land were the only locations that had any promise of becoming a diamond mine. As it turned out, the diamond-bearing pipe was narrow, just several hundred yards in diameter. All other volcanic pipes in the area did not yield diamonds.
Pay-To-Dig Diamond Mine
After the initial commercial prospecting, the mine became pay-to-prospect mine, and received its attractive name, the Crater of Diamonds, in 1951. The State of Arkansas bought the site in 1972 and began operating it as a year-round-open-to-all "Crater of Diamonds State Park." Please visit the mine for the experience, not for the diamonds, and you will not be disappointed!
About the Author
Antonia is a sociologist and an anglicist by education, but a writer and a behavior enthusiast by inclination. If she's not writing, editing or reading, you can usually find her snuggling with her huge dog or being obsessed with a new true-crime podcast. She also has a (questionably) healthy appreciation for avocados and Seinfeld.
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