If you want a singular outdoor experience, you might check out the only diamond-producing site in the world open to the public — and you get to keep what you find.
A rockhound’s delight since it was purchased by the state of Arkansas in 1972, the Crater of Diamonds State Park is located near Murfreesboro, which is about 300 miles from OKC and 250 miles from Tulsa.
The Arkansas state flag proudly has a large white diamond on it, which means Arkansas is the only diamond-producing state in the nation.
Farmer John Huddleston was on his property one hot August afternoon in 1906 when he found a small shiny object. Huddleston told of the find to Tom Shiras of the Arkansas Gazette.
“I was crawling on my hands and knees…when my eyes fell on another glittering pebble… I knew it was different from any I had ever seen before,” he said. “It had a fiery eye that blazed up at me every way I turned it. I hurried to the house with the pebble, saddled my mule and started for Murfreesboro.”
That pebble turned out to be a two-carat diamond. Later, the farm was sold to various mining operators.
Your search will be in a 37-acre plowed field, the eroded surface of an ancient volcanic pipe.
Fees for prospecting are $10 for adults, $6 children ages 6-12 and no charge for anyone under age six.
Wear old shoes or boots and bring a hat and sunscreen. You can bring your own digging tools or rent then from the park with a small refundable deposit.
Rental equipment available for a small fee and a refundable deposit includes a small wooden box screen, a plastic bucket, folding army shovel and knee pads.
There are three methods of searching for diamonds.
Surface searching involves walking up and down the rows of dirt looking for diamonds. Following a hard rain, this is the most productive method.
Digging in the soil and screening the soil is the most popular method.
The third method involves digging deep holes down to a certain kind of soil, then screening the soil and sorting through the small gravel to find diamonds.
Crater of Diamonds State Park offers free rock and mineral identification at the Diamond Discovery Center. Your finds are weighed and certified free of charge for the finder.
The most common colors of diamonds that can be found are white, yellow and brown.
Besides diamonds, other rocks found include amethyst, banded agate, jasper, peridot, garnet and quartz.
Usually, the diamonds are too small to be cut.
Some people like to have them mounted in a pendant or necklace. Should you find one large enough to be cut, the park officials can give you a list of diamond cutters.
A one carat diamond is comprised of 100 pts. and is about the size of a green pea. Most diamonds found in the park are around 25 pts. or ¼ carat in size.
Go to www.craterofdiamondsstatepark.com or call (870) 285-3113 and sign up for their newsletter. It lets you know the last date the field was plowed and the diamonds finders’ names, home states and carat weight of the latest finds.
As of the end of April 2019, the total number of diamonds found was 177. Colors of diamonds found this year are mainly white, with a few yellow and brown ones. On May 31st of this year, a visitor from Kansas found a 1 carat white diamond.
A large gem found in the park was in 2015 and was over 16 carats. It was also white and was named the Esperanza diamond.
Two years before that find, a teenage girl from the OKC area found a canary-colored diamond weighing 3.87 carats which she reportedly sold for $20,000 to save for college.
She named the diamond, “God’s Jewel”.
Several Oklahomans appear on the list through the years of finding large diamonds, those of five carats or more.
The largest diamond discovered in the park was a 40.23-carat, white diamond. It is known as the biggest diamond found in the United States and was discovered in 1924. It was named the Uncle Sam diamond by its finder.
The park hosts tent and recreational vehicle campers and has a restaurant. In 2004, it opened Diamond Springs Water Park, a mining-themed aquatic playground, which is open during the summer season.
My wife has put a visit to this worthwhile destination on her “bucket list”.
Reach John Kilgore at email@example.com