Diamond Hunting Adventure
Crater of Diamonds State Park, Mufreesboro. Ark.
Diamond hunting in the US? Hard to believe but true.....Sitting on 35 acres in South-central Arkansas is the only place in the world you can actually mine for diamonds for a small daily fee.... 50,000 diamonds have been extracted from the park since it's discovery of diamonds in 1906..The mine itself is actually a prehistoric volcanic field..(kimberlite pipe)...11,000 diamonds have been found since it became a state park. The largest ever found here was the: "Uncle Sam" 40.42 carats ...The field itself is plowed on a regular bases to help in finding the rough diamonds.
6 + Carat Monster!
The most exiting part of my Adventure was meeting up with the few locals that mine diamonds by hand for a living... One of them showed me his collection of diamonds the largest a 6+ carat diamond in the rough... It is one of the top 10 diamonds ever found in the park since being opened to the public. The price he was asking for it was 25,000. He let me take it into stronger light so I walked about 20 feet from him with it..I felt a little gun shy so I asked him if I could do so..I held it up into the sunlight and looked with amassment at this natural wonder..and it was breathtaking....I couldn't believe what I was seeing a natural 6+ carat red/burgundy diamond.. As I turned to walk it back to him...He says," You better not drop it in the dirt". I then sat down wishing to myself, "Why did I take my digital camera back to the car"... I kind felt as a Gem Dealer,"It doesn't get much better than this.....
Digging for diamonds on a warm November day..... The shop at the visitors center rents screens for sifting the green volcanic lamroite...the pros make there own screens; different sizes: The mesh they use is a stainless steel mesh over old bike wheel frames..They usually dig up the dirt into 5 gallon buckets then carry it to the covered Sluice areas..(above photo in the center of pic...) They then use thier round mesh screens going from largest to smallest...smallest is about the size of a screen for a window...(Most diamonds found are under .50 ct., reason for the smaller mesh..) The final and smallest screens are where most find there diamonds.. I thought it would be like panning for gold, but to find a diamond the method is alot different.
The pros call it pancake'n....In the final screen.. you lightly bounce your screen at the top of the water and as you bounce you turn it ...you then drain off the excess water from your pancake and quickly flip it over. (Tables for this are also at wash areas) In the center of the pancake you will usually see alot of white crystal calcite, quartz, ect...and maybe a diamond...Its really hard to miss a diamond because of there metallic shine .. but people do from time to time...One local diamond hunter reruns the dirt other people have haphazardly looked through and has found diamonds on more than one occasion... Much of what I have written about to many of the local diamond hunters is very classified and many will not tell you there formula for hunting at all... In fact this was my second trip to the diamond field and did alot of watching and listen this time...
The other method of finding diamonds at the mine is surface searching...One local diamond hunter says, " its like watching cow birds when the plows are digging up the soil for the diamond hunters"...One of the best times to surface hunt is in the morning and evening because of the angle of the sun...they say to keep the sun over your shoulder and look for anything that sparkles...Both times I have been.... visitors have found diamonds in this manner... a week prior to my last visit a lady was surface hunting in the late afternoon sun ..looked down and seeing something shinny and metallic... she kept her eye on the spot.... bent down brushed away alittle dirt and picked from the surface a 1.0 carat flawless canary diamond.
Bigger than "Uncle Sam"?
One story of the Mine before it became a State Park... Is the story of the EGG.....One that I heard from a man who had spoken to the individual who had worked at the mine under the last private owner and had held the Egg in his hand... This story was told to him years ago... According to the the story the last owner was hurting for cash and even though diamonds were being mined and found ..the owner was hoping to increase his bottom line...as the story goes the machine that was used to find the diamonds , A kinda motorized sifter and a belt with oil that the diamonds would get stuck in was being used. The heavier diamonds would get stuck onto a belt with oil on it. All other material would be blowen out the end of the machine...Well According to the story... the man saw a questionable large shinny stone stuck on the belt ..reached in he pulled it from the belt. In amazement it was a diamond... the size of a small egg!!!.. with the machine running the diamond was handed to another worker at the site and because of the slick outer surface of the diamond... dropped it accidentally into the on rush of rocks and dirt coming out of the motorized sifter...With the machine going and no one realizing what had happened ...piles of rock and dirt covered the diamond... No one ever found it and a short time after this the owner run out of money and shut down the mine...It was said to be lost just west of the main sluice box area:( Soon as you come out of the visitors center you can see the Covered sluice box.... MIDDLE OF PHOTO at top of page: THE EGG IS LOST BEHIND THIS). Some say the diamond is under it..but it was fun looking ... I Hoped you enjoyed my article and have added some good links on my Links page: For those interested in traveling to Murfreesboro to hunt for diamonds I have a great list of items you will need to seriously hunt diamonds. Email me(under orders) and I would be happy to supply you a list of items to take..... Ritchard 11-20-99
Canary Diamonds from mine! Lamproite: Volcanic rock from mine!