Where Tourists Mine Diamonds For Fun

Diamonds are girl’s best friend, right? Either given as tokens of love or drawing up arms for human rights, diamonds have their place in the world, both good and bad. But one thing most people can agree on is that diamonds are expensive. They don’t grow on trees and diamond mines are held on tightly by their owners, unless you have a mine where tourists mine diamonds.

The Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro Arkansas has a diamond mine. Unique for a state park, the Crater of Diamonds is the only diamond mine in the entire world that is open to the public, letting visitors keep any gem they may find.

A one of a kind experience, Crater of Diamonds brings diamond hunters from all over as it is the eighth-largest diamond volcanic crater in the world. There are a lot of diamonds still to be found!

No Tools Needed

No fancy tools are needed to look for diamonds in the park. It is not uncommon for children to even find diamonds within the park while walking around. The park has diamonds of different colors and quality, making it easier to find them.

The park does charge an entrance fee to get into it, which is common for state parks in general. They also let you rent mining tools if you would like to do a little digging or sifting. The best part? You get to keep any diamond that you find, no matter how big or small.

Arkansas? Don’t you Mean Africa?

While Africa has been most commonly thought of as the diamond capital of the world, they are found in other places as well. The soil in the Crater of Diamonds State Park is very similar to the soil found in South Africa, where diamonds are mined for profit.

Diamonds are created from the Earth’s mantle and take billions of years to move from the mantle up through the crust. In the case of the park, they are thought to have made it to the soil through a volcanic eruption that happened about 100 million years ago, leaving a crater in the Earth and pushing the stones further up to the surface.

Thousands of Discoveries

The first diamond in this park was found in 1906 by a farmer who had bought the land. More than 75,000 diamonds have been found ever since. The diamond mine was turned into a state park in 1972, but that did not slow down the diamond discoveries. There have been more than 19,000 diamonds found since it was turned into a park.

Amateur miners can comb through the 83-acre crater looking on the surface or digging into the dirt to try to see if they are lucky enough to grab a stone.

The First Diamond

While the exact story is little fuzzy, the common thought is that John Wesley Huddleston had noticed a sparkly pebble on the ground and then found another. He took both to the bank nearby. The teller offered to buy the stones for 50 cents, but Huddleston did not accept. The stones were sent to a jeweler at Tiffany’s who confirmed that they were real diamonds.

Huddleston had no interest in diamond mining and just wanted to get rid of the mine. He sold it to some investors for $36,000, which was a lot of money back then, hoping to retire. But he lost most of his money due to poor money management.

Mine to Park

After Huddleston was out of the picture, there were a few attempts at commercial mining, but none succeeded. No one was getting rich from the mine. There popped up a couple of tourist attractions offering people to pay to attempt to find their own diamond, but they were both sold in the 1960s.

The state bought the land in the late 1960s and turned it into a state park in 1972. Instead of having more people have failed attempts at making it rich off the land, the state opened the mine up to the public, only requiring an entrance fee to let people mine for diamonds and keep the findings.

The Findings

The diamonds in the park have had a wide range of quality. The largest diamond was found in 1924. Named the Uncle Sam, the white diamond was 40.23 carats, the same size as a gumball. The second-largest diamond was found in the 1950s and was 15.33 carats.

Most of the diamonds are pretty small, about the size of the head of a match. But with about 500 discoveries a year, there are at least a couple that go over five carats. And, outside of size, the mine does have a lot of variety in color.

What’s it Worth?

Diamonds are valued depending on the 4 C’s. Jewelers look at color, carat, clarity, and cut when assessing value. On occasion, people look for the fifth ‘C’ which is country because diamonds from the United States are uncommon, making them even more valuable.

While most people who find diamonds never report back to the park, there was one woman in recent years who said the diamond she found was valued at $22,000, definitely making up for the entrance fee to the park. There was a diamond found in 1990 that was 3.03 carats in the rough and cut to 1.09 carat round shape. It became the only diamond ever graded as perfect by the American Gem Society and was sold back to the park for $36,000.

+ Bonus Knowledge Nuggets

The biggest diamond mine in the world, called Jubilee, is located in Sakha, Russia, with the second-largest sitting in Yakutia, Russia. The mine is thought to have over 153 million carats of diamonds within it, which includes some diamonds that are still underground. Jubilee is an open-pit style mine, different from the Crater of Diamonds because they are digging them up on a large-scale instead of lightly digging on top. The mine is about a thousand feet into the Earth currently, but is estimated to be double the depth before they stop digging. Opened in 1986, Jubilee has already brought out 10.4 million carats of diamonds.