Dig This: Search For Your Own Sparkling Gem at Crater of Diamonds State Park

A chance to earn your natural diamond...

What could possibly be better than finding the diamond of your dreams in a store? How about digging one out of the dirt yourself?😜 That’s right, Crater of Diamonds State Park gives visitors the opportunity to play prospector and dig up their own diamonds in America’s only active diamond mine!😎

Let’s talk about Crater of Diamonds State Park and why you should plan your visit today. We’ll even give you some tips on how to prepare for your mining journey through the park!

Playing Prospector at the Crater of Diamonds State Park
Original Image: Wikipedia

What makes Crater of Diamonds State Park so special?

So why should you make a trip to Crater of Diamonds State Park? Here are a few reasons why this location is particularly unique:

The only active diamond mine in the U.S.

Diamonds require very specific temperature and pressure conditions as well as millions or billions of years to form. This process isn’t easily replicated without complex lab technology, and so natural diamonds only form in a few remote places across the globe.  

While diamonds can be found in multiple mines throughout Russia, Africa, Australia, and Canada, Crater of Diamonds State Park is the ONLY active diamond mine in the United States. There are actually two diamond mines in the U.S.—the other one is the Kelsey Lake Diamond Mine in Fort Collins, CO—but the diamond mine in Arkansas is the only one still active and accessible to the public.🎈

The only diamond mine in the world open to public prospecting

Most diamond mines are closed operations owned by private companies who utilize them to source diamonds for jewelry, industrial machinery, surgical equipment, and more. Therefore, Crater of Diamonds State Park is the ONLY diamond mine open to the public for the purpose of prospecting.

It’s hard to believe there’s a mine where you can bring your tools and go to work searching for your own sparkler, but that’s exactly what Crater of Diamonds State Park offers. In fact, about 60,000 people visit the spot annually!

The history of Crater of Diamonds State Park

The origins of Arkansas Diamond Mines

The history of Crater of Diamonds far exceeds that of the state park itself, dating back to 1906. That year, John Wesley Huddleston discovered a couple of glittering stones among the dirt of his Pike County farmland. It turns out, his deeded land covered three-quarters of the entire crater, and it was a natural diamond deposit.

Huddleston’s find brought businesses and individuals alike to the area, and the farmer ended up selling his land for $36,000. While that doesn’t seem like much, that price would be almost $1 million today. Further known as “Diamond John” after his discovery, Huddleston sold his farm to Sam Reyburn and his group of investors, who eventually secured all but 6 acres of the crater for diamond mining operations.

Mining U.S. diamonds

Long before Huddleston found his first two gems, natural occurrences throughout our earth’s shift into its current state spurred the creation of diamonds in what is today known as Arkansas. During the formation of the continents as we know them today, the collision of South America with the North American continent churned the volcanic earth and created the conditions necessary to form the Crater of Diamonds.📝

Origins of Crater of Diamonds

The volcanic formations created by this jarring movement span about 80 acres, and the easternmost section of the area produces the most diamonds in the crater. Surface mining of the land continued until 1932, when diamond yield was not large enough to sustain commercial mining activities. Interested parties consulted with the U.S. Bureau of Mines throughout the 1940’s to see if mining efforts could be fruitful once more. However, testing proved the yield was too low to make a profit, and commercial efforts were discontinued indefinitely.

Crater of Diamonds State Park today

Despite the unfortunate end to commercial mining, the land still proved to be fruitful for the state. In 1972, the state of Arkansas purchased the land to create Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Unlike most state and national parks where the motto is typically “Look, but don’t touch”, this Arkansas diamond mine provides a hands-on experience for visitors. Located in Murfreesboro, AR, the park attracts people from around the world seeking a raw diamond of their own. 🎉As such, a total of 75,000 diamonds have been found at the Crater of Diamonds, and if you find it, you keep it!

Digging for diamonds: Tips for prospecting at the park

How to prepare for your diamond hunting adventure

Crater of Diamonds State Park has plenty of fun activities for all ages, including camping, fishing, hiking, and wildlife observation. However, diamond prospecting is definitely the most popular attraction!

Ticket prices are reasonable at just $10.00 for adults and $6.00 for children ages 6 to 12. Plus, children under 6 years old are free! The park admits 1,500 visitors to the diamond field per day, so make sure you purchase your tickets before your trip.

Additionally, the park has specific business hours during which the field is open. You can visit the diamond mine between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 pm, but the visitor’s center is open for questions until 5:00 pm.

Tips and tricks for finding diamonds

Planning a trip to Crater of Diamonds State Park? Here are a few ways you can make your stay more enjoyable and—possibly—profitable:😍

Understand your search options

There are several ways to find diamonds at the park, so figure out which method you’ll be using and what tools are required.

  • Surface searching entails walking through the field looking for gems that have been displaced by plowing or rain. This method doesn’t require any tools, but it can be a lot harder to find anything!
  • Some visitors prefer digging holes and searching the displaced earth for diamonds. If you choose to dig, make sure you fill your holes before leaving for the day and secure any holes that are deeper than 4 feet.
  • Finally, you may choose to sift or screen for diamonds. Sifting can be done with dry dirt, but wet screening requires a washing station for rinsing. Each guest can also remove one 5-gallon bucket of sifted dirt from the park per day.

Bring your own equipment

Bring your own tools for digging up diamonds if you can! You can stick to surface screening, but you’ll most likely want to dig to increase your chances of finding a diamond. To do so, plan to bring shovels, trowels, buckets, and even sifting screens if you have them. Otherwise, you can rent all of these tools on site.

Watch the weather

The diamond search field is a large, open space with no natural shade. As such, it’s important to check the weather to ensure you dress as needed! While Arkansas is technically a warm Southern state, you never know when it may rain or freeze during spring or fall!

Dress accordingly

Whether you choose to dig for an hour or a full day, make sure you dress appropriately. The field is often muddy, so wear shoes and clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty. On cooler days, wear extra layers and gloves so you don’t have to end your trip early. Or, if it’s a sunny day, wear a hat and sunglasses and reapply sunscreen frequently. Bug spray is also helpful for summer trips.

Most importantly, don’t forget to bring a change of clothes for a cozy ride home!

Pack snacks

Digging in the dirt can increase your appetite! Pack plenty of water and healthy snacks, such as fruit, veggies, and protein or granola bars, to keep you energized throughout the day. Or, bring a picnic and take a break with the family to soak up some rays.🍔

Study past big finds by following the markers

For information on historic discoveries at the park and spots with the largest diamond finds, just follow the shovels! There are black shovels with signs throughout the 37-acre field that can tell you more about diamonds people found at the park. They can be fun to read when taking a break from all that digging and sifting!

You may find other gemstones in the soil

While everyone wants to find a diamond, there are actually over 40 naturally occurring minerals and rocks within the soil of Crater of Diamonds State Park. You may be lucky enough to find jasper, quartz, amethyst, agate, calcite, lamproite, mica, and barite as well.

Remember: You won’t always find a large diamond

Realistically, only a couple of diamonds are found daily at the state park. Plus, most of them are only large enough to register as “points” and not “carats”. It takes 100 points to equal 1 carat, and most diamonds found at the park are much smaller at 5-40 points. However, there are larger stones out there, and you may just have to keep digging to find yours!

If you think you’ve found a diamond, you can bring it to the Diamond Discovery Center where park experts can help you identify it.

Spectacular finds at the Crater of Diamonds State Park

Visitors and miners alike have found sizable diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park! Here are a few notorious Arkansas diamond mine finds:

The Uncle Sam Diamond

The largest stone to be found at the Crater of Diamonds, the Uncle Sam diamond is a whopping 40.23-carat stone. It’s actually the largest diamond found in the United States as well!🥇

Discovered by Wesley Oley Basham in 1924, the stone gets its name from Basham himself. Nicknamed “Uncle Sam”, he was a worker at the Arkansas Diamond Corporation.

Schenk and Van Haelen cut the diamond twice, remarking at its extreme hardness that made it tough to facet. The final cut, a 12.42-carat emerald cut diamond, sold for $150,000 in 1971—that’s about $880,000 today!

The Uncle Sam diamond is a Type IIa stone with VVS1 clarity and M color. Although this color rating typically denotes a faint yellow hue, the Uncle Sam stone has been described as white or light pink.

Other historic finds

Although the Uncle Sam diamond is the largest find at the Crater of Diamonds, there are still plenty of notable stones found by visitors:

Star of Murfreesboro

  • Carat Weight: 34.25
  • Discovered By: John Pollock
  • Date: March 1, 1964
  • Description: It’s the largest diamond found by a tourist at Crater of Diamonds State Park. Originally valued at $15,000, the stone is worth $95,452.47 when adjusted for inflation. The family still owns the diamond, loaning it out to museums and gem trade shows periodically.

Amarillo Starlight

  • Carat Weight: 16.37
  • Discovered By: W.W. Johnson
  • Date: 1975
  • Description: The Amarillo Starlight is the largest diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park since its founding in 1972. It was cut into a 7.54-carat marquise diamond valued at $150,000 to $175,000, and it’s white in color.

Star of Shreveport

  • Carat Weight: 8.82
  • Discovered By: Carroll Blankenship
  • Year: 1981
  • Description: This white diamond gets its name from Shreveport, LA which is where Blankenship lived at the time.

Strawn-Wagner Diamond

  • Carat Weight: 3.09
  • Discovered By: Shirley Strawn
  • Year: 1990
  • Description: Colorless and internally flawless, this diamond is exceptionally rare. It was even rated a “perfect” 0/0/0 by the AGS and perfect by the GIA! The stone was cut into a 1.09-carat diamond in 1997 and was purchased by the park for $34,700. It’s currently on display at the Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Kahn Canary

  • Carat Weight: 4.25
  • Discovered By: George Stepp
  • Year: 1977
  • Description: A rare canary yellow diamond, the Kahn Canary is another flawless diamond. Rather than cut the stone, jeweler Stan Kahn chose to polish it and keep the dodecahedral “pillow” shape. Today, the diamond is set in a yellow gold ring that was worn by Hillary Clinton when her husband was sworn in as both the governor of Arkansas and the 42nd President of the United States.

Okie Dokie Diamond

  • Carat Weight: 4.21
  • Discovered By: Marvin Culver
  • Year: 2006
  • Description: Valued between $15,000 and $60,000, the Okie Dokie Diamond is another flawless example of Arkansas gems. It’s a deep canary yellow stone, which sold for an undisclosed amount.

Esperanza Diamond

  • Carat Weight: 8.52
  • Discovered By: Bobbie Oskarson
  • Year: June 2015
  • Description: Oskarson named the fifth largest diamond found at the park after her niece and the Spanish word for “hope”. She eventually let Mike Botha cut the diamond into a 4.6 carat triolette shape at a public event in North Little Rock. Once cut, the AGS inspected the stone and graded it as a Type IIa colorless and internally flawless, valuing it at $500,000!

Recent finds and exciting modern adventurers

People find new gemstones at Crater of Diamonds State Park daily, and it’s amazing how often these larger specimens show up. In fact, about 1 in 5 diamonds found by visitors is located just on top of the soil!

In 2018, a 71-year old woman from Colorado found a 2.63-carat diamond just laying on the top layer of the search area. Additionally, as recently as 2020, an Arkansas native dug up a 4.49-carat canary yellow stone.

If you’re interested in researching recent finds at Crater of Diamonds State Park, take a look at their website where they list the date of the find, home state of the visitor, and weight and color of the diamond.

Find your own diamond today

Whether you find an 8-carat stunner or a .5-carat gem, it can be incredibly fun to dig for your own diamond. Too often, people limit their gemstone exposure to staring at polished gems through storefronts and lit displays. It can even be humbling and exciting to do the “dirty work” of digging for a natural diamond, and knowing you labored to retrieve your stone makes it all the more precious!🏋🏻

If you’re looking for an inexpensive, fun vacation to take with family or friends this summer, consider Crater of Diamonds State Park for a one-of-a-kind adventure. It’s not every day you can say you found the diamond in your ring or necklace yourself, and you never know who will discover the next big diamond!

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