Hidden Treasures at Crater of Diamonds State Park

You can search for some of the most beautiful diamonds in the world at Arkansas’s very own Crater of Diamonds State Park.

In a recent visit to the park for the Go! Northwest Arkansas show, host Sydney Brooks found a park expert to give us the scoop. Park Interpreter II Waymon Cox details how to find your very own diamond in the video above. More of a reader? We’ve got you covered with a full transcript below (lightly edited for clarity).

Waymon Cox, Park Interpreter II 00:48 – When people come here to search for diamonds in Arkansas, they’re literally searching in a volcanic crater, where diamonds erupted to the surface more than 100 million years ago. Signs of the history here, including commercial mining history, are still around. We have commercial mining equipment as well as our historical mineshaft building. The techniques that some of these commercial miners use are still referred to today by our current visitors to help find diamonds.

core samples

WC 01:23 – Lots of visitors like to walk and look for diamonds on top of the ground, a method we call surface searching. Diamonds are heavy for their size and when it rains, the rain tends to uncover larger, heavier stones and sometimes diamonds. Diamonds are extremely shiny, so they’re easy to see when the sun comes out and a lot of people walk out here and tend to pick them up after a good rain.

walking for diamonds

WC 01:47 – More often though, visitors have to dig and do a little bit more work to find their diamonds. The best way to do this is by sifting the dirt. We have two different techniques of sifting that work well. Dry sifting and wet sifting. Dry sifting relies on that shining surface of a diamond to make it easier to find. It’s done by simply using a small mesh screen, putting a couple of handfuls of dirt into your screen and sifting it out in one spot until you have nothing left in that screen but gravel, and then looking over the gravel that’s left for the metallic shine of a diamond.

diamond panning

WC 02:25 – Wet sifting involves a little bit more work. You need buckets, shovels and a double screen set. You’ll start by digging your dirt out of lower areas. Diamonds are heavy, and so when rain washes through the field, that tends to collect diamonds and other heavy gravel into lower areas. So when you dig, digging in the lower areas will more often yield heavier gravel. Once you get your heavy gravel, you’ll take it into a tub of water. The park has two washing pavilions, but a lot of times visitors will also bring their own tubs and other places to wet stift in the field.

wet panning

WC 03:04 – Here at the Crater of Diamond State Park we have resources to help people learn how to search for diamonds. We have exhibits in the search area that cover the different searching techniques. We also have videos on our website at Crater of Diamonds State Park dot com that details the different searching methods used here to find diamonds.

Pan in Water

WC 03:26 – One unique aspect that a lot of people don’t know about is that a lot of people find diamonds at home. Visitors can take up to five gallons of gravel home each day to search for diamonds later. It has to be sifted, you can’t take the dirt from the field. But once you take your gravel home, you can set it out and let it dry good and then look over it for the metallic shine of a diamond.

diamond washing pavilion

WC 03:51 – Our diamonds have a very unique appearance, they’re going to be usually small about the size of a BB or match head. They can be white, brown, or yellow. Those are the most common colors found here. White diamonds are closest to a pure carbon crystal, while brown and yellow diamonds have inclusions of nitrogen in that carbon crystal that caused them to turn different colors. The most distinct aspect of our diamonds is going to be their metallic shine. All diamonds at the crater are going to have a beautiful metallic shine to them. That’s going to be one of a kind you won’t see anything else shine quite like a diamond. They’ll also have a rounded surface and that’s due in part to the process of eruption that brought them to the surface. Our diamonds went through a process called resorption which is a melting down of the crystal structure. Instead of having sharp angles and edges like diamonds from other mines in the world. The diamonds here in Arkansas have a smooth, rounded surface that makes them very beautiful in the rough. So much so that a lot of people who find diamonds here, put them into jewelry without ever having them cut. They’re beautiful to look at just as they are.

park diamond display

WC 05:06 – The park is open year round. We only close on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve afternoon Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The rest of the year were open and it’s always a great time to come out and search for diamonds. In addition to diamond searching, you can walk one of our beautiful nature trails. We have a campground we also have a waterpark that’s open during the summers. So whether you’re coming during the summer or winter, we hope that you’ll have a chance to come join us here and search for your diamond at Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Interested in a little background on how the park came to be? Waymon Cox returns to tell us a story in the video below.

Get more interesting places, unique businesses, and intriguing stories from Go! NWA right here.