Summer Road Trip: Dig for Diamonds at Arkansas’ Crater of Diamonds State Park
While lab-grown diamonds may be “made in the USA,” the US also has a source of natural diamonds. They are not commercially mined. They are mined by volunteers, who pay for the privilege. But they get to keep what they find. Intrigued? Head to Murfreesboro, Arkansas, to the Crater of Diamonds State Park and try your luck.
ABOVE: At Crater of Diamonds, you can find white, yellow and brown diamonds. Photo courtesy Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
The first diamond was found at the location by John Huddleston in 1906, and though there have been several attempts to mine the pipe commercially, they have all failed. It opened as a state park in 1972. The US’s only known diamond-producing pipe is 37 acres plowed regularly to bring diamonds to the surface. But diamonds are not the only stones there. Garnets are often found in pipes with diamonds. The park also reports amethyst, quartz, agate, and jasper.
How to Enjoy the Crater of Diamonds State Park
If you don’t know anything about diamond mining—most importantly, what rough stones look like—the park’s Diamond Discovery Center has examples of the stones on hand to show you. You’ll also find information about how to look for diamonds. And park staff are on hand to identify anything you find.
You can bring your own tools (nothing motorized or battery driven, however), or you can rent them from the park. Collecting has to be done the old fashioned way, with shovels and sieves. Here’s a hint from the website: You can take home up to five gallons of sifted gravel, per person, per day. (You cannot remove unsifted dirt.) The park says, “Many diamonds registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park have been found by visitors who take their sifted gravel home.” So bring the family, sift the gravel, take it home, and then have a diamond search party. See what you can find. If you can get there after a rainfall, though it may be muddy, you might have a better chance of finding a stone that’s been washed free of the surrounding dirt and dust.
Strike it Rich
It’s not impossible to find a reward. More than 33,000 diamonds have been found since it opened to the public in 1972. Although most were small, some were pretty big. The largest one remains the 40.23 carat Uncle Sam.
The park is open 8 to 7 most days. all year (except for the big four: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, and a half day on Christmas Eve. Wouldn’t finding your own diamond be a great Christmas gift!). The fee is $10 a day for adults, $6 for children 6-12, and free for children under 6.
By the way, if you’ve heard the term “Arkansas diamonds,” it is often applied to beautiful quartz crystals, also called “Herkimer diamonds.” The diamonds at Crater of Diamonds, however, are the real deal. Genuine home-grown diamonds.
Visit the Crater of Diamonds website to plan your trip.
Sharon Elaine Thompson is a GG and FGA who has been writing about gemstones and jewelry for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 1987. She also writes a line of birthstone romance novels under the name Liz Hartley.