Prospecting for Diamonds in Arkansas
If you want to dig for diamonds, head for the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas, the only diamond-producing site in the world where the public can search for diamonds. It is located two miles southeast of Murfreesboro on Arkansas Highway 301.
For only $7 per day (age 6-12, $4; under 6, free), you can explore the 37-acre plowed field which is the eroded surface of an ancient, gem-bearing volcanic pipe. It is plowed periodically to turn the soil to bring more diamonds to the surface.
This area was established as a State Park in 1972, and is open every day except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Pets on a leash are allowed everywhere except the Diamond Springs Water Park and the Kimberlite Café.
It provides extensive campgrounds. Online reservations can be made up to a year in advance of your arrival. There are also picnic areas and, during the summer, a restaurant.
How to Dig for Diamonds
You enter the field through the Diamond Discovery Center, where you can see exhibits and an audiovisual program which explains the three most popular methods for searching for diamonds.
You can simply walk up and down the rows of dirt looking for diamonds lying on top of the ground. This method is the most productive following a hard rain which washes the soil away, leaving diamonds and other rocks and minerals exposed on the surface.
The most popular method is digging 6-12 inches in the soil using a small garden trowel or shovel to turn the soil over. You can also use a screen to sift the soil.
If you don’t mind some hard work, you can dig deep holes, wash the soil in a series of screens, and then hand-sort the concentrated gravel from the screens.
Diamonds feel like they have an oily film on them, which keeps them from being dirty. They are translucent, which means you can see into them but not through them. The most common colors of diamonds are white, yellow, and brown (in that order).
What Equipment You Should Bring
Actually, you can rent everything you need for a small price but a large deposit (for example, the Basic Diamond Hunting Kit which includes a folding shovel, screen set, and 3.5 gallon bucket, rents for $8 per day with a refundable deposit of $35). However, you can bring your own tools. You may use anything that does not have a battery, motor, or wheels on it for transporting equipment in and out of the search area.
For digging, you can bring anything from a small garden trowel to a full-size shovel (folding shovels are popular). You can bring a sifting screen which you can buy or make at home. You might want to bring a plastic bucket and knee pads. Don’t forget to bring a plastic zipper bag or plastic vile to put your diamonds in!
Other handy items would be a small brush to brush the dirt off the diamonds as well as a magnifying glass so you can get a better look at your find. And, of course, a camera to document it all. (NOTE: A disposable camera is recommended, just as a precaution.)
While diamond digging is best following a rain, keep in mind that the field will be very muddy. Wear old clothes and shoes or boots. Bring along a couple of old towels and a change of clothes because digging for diamonds can be messy. Protect yourself from the sun with a hat and sunscreen. And be sure to bring along some bottled water.
Are There Any Valuable Diamonds Here?
Diamonds that are too small to be cut can be made into jewelry as a nice souvenir of your prospecting adventure. However, if you come across a diamond that is large enough to be cut, it can be worth a lot of money. The park offers free rock and mineral identification at the Diamond Discovery Center. Diamonds are weighed and certified free of charge for the finder.
On their website, you can see the size of the latest diamond finds. They also have a photo gallery, and more information about the park, including a virtual tour. Be sure to click on to the brochures section. It will give you a PDF brochure that includes a detailed map of the State Park.
For more information . . .
E-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
Call – 1-870-285-3113
Write – Crater of Diamonds State Park; 209 State Park Road; Murfreesboro, AR 71958