The thought of it was tantalizing enough to endure the nearly 100 degree heat. Finding a diamond of my own would be a unique and memorable experience. Panning for gold in Georgia and in Australia and searching for opals in Australia were memorable in their own right. But, a diamond? Even a tiny chip would mean success.
Near Murfreesboro, Arkansas lies the Crater of Diamonds State Park. This is still the only location in the US where visitors are allowed to search for diamonds and keep whatever they find.
Vacationing by car, we were able to bring our own garden trowels and bucket. But, the park also has digging supplies available for rent. Surveying the 37 acre site after paying the entrance fee and negotiating our way to the diamond field, we had a decision to make… surface searching, screening, or wet screening. Given that we had bothered to bring our own tools, we chose surface screening. Basically, we just sat among the rows of dirt mounds and guessed at which areas looked promising.
Visitors are instructed to look for a crystal that has a metallic shine and advised that dirt and mud won’t stick to the diamonds because they have a slick surface. We plunged the garden trowel into the dirt and lifted up dirt and tiny rocks to examine. Slowly, we used our gloved fingers to sift away obvious rocks and excess dirt. No luck. Bummer. Wouldn’t it have been such a coup to have discovered a diamond in the very first batch of dirt?
Another trowel full. Then, another. We pressed on. With over 28,000 diamonds having been found in the park, surely we could find one. More dirt to sift. Finally, we separated, thinking we should cover more territory in less time, each of us tackling different rows in different corners of the park. Still no luck.
On the way out, stopping at the Diamond Discovery Center, visitors can present their finds to the staff for identification. We had managed to find several pieces of jasper, quartz, and even a few chips of plastic. But, hey, they were shiny, and we didn’t want to take any chances of leaving potential treasure behind.
The allure of finding treasure will lead us to return to the park someday. Next time, we may possibly try the other 2 methods of searching as well in order to increase our chances of success. In a way, we did find our own diamond, which was the fun of the experience. That was a treasure for which we will return again.
Note that if digging during the hot summer months, be sure to take plenty of water and a hat.