Rock Hounding for Kelsey Lake Diamonds


That’s the sound you would have heard 390 million years ago at Kelsey Lake, Colorado, as hot gases and diamonds blasted out of the ground at 25 miles per second. (That’s twice the speed of sound.) At best, you would have been vaporized instantly if you had been standing there. Or you would have been stoned to death as garnets, diamonds and other minerals rained back into the insta-crater, which was about four acres round.

In a geology class, this formation is called a Kimberlite pipe and it goes about 100 miles deep into the earth, where billion-year-old diamonds have a tendency to float around.

Although the mine produced thousands of carats of stones, it’s been closed for years and the land reclaimed to look like the surrounding high plains prairie. The site also is on private property. So if you want to hunt for these beauties, you’ll need a checkbook.

The photograph above shows a 14.2 carat Kelsey Lake diamond found in 1994. And of course it sold for a lot. But well-known mineral dealer Dave Bunk of Denver has a few tiny examples left. A 0.27 carat natural crystal on his web site is listed for $162 at To find them, search the site for “diamond Colorado.” Or give him a call.

Watch for Betsy’s story on Colorado diamonds and her easy demo for setting diamond crystals in the September/October, 2017, issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.

Betsy Lehndorff is a Michigan silversmith and has been writing for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 2010. Her latest article, Tube and Chain Necklace with Pearl, appeared in the March 2017 issue.

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