Colorful Minerals Found at the Crater of Diamonds

By Waymon Cox

Chrome Diopside

Greetings from Crater of Diamonds State Park! Each fall, changing leaves enhance the colors and natural beauty of our surroundings. For visitors to Crater of Diamonds State Park, colorful minerals can also add bursts of excitement for anyone exploring the park!

Mineral colors are caused by certain elements, chemicals, defects, and processes. Though some come in a wide variety of colors, others are only found in one color. Barite, chrome diopside, and amethyst are three such crystals that stand out for many of our guests.

Barite from the mine is usually small, with a tabular shape. It is made of barium sulfate, which gives it a characteristic blue-gray color. Worldwide, it may be white, yellow, or brown, as well. Barite is also easily identifiable by its weight, as it is quite a bit heavier than most other minerals of a similar size.

Though fairly soft, barite is occasionally used in simple jewelry that allows its beautiful blue hue to truly stand out. However, it is more often crushed for use in drilling mud and as an x-ray contrast in hospitals. Most barite is mined in the United States, but it can also be found in Morocco.

Chrome diopside is another colorful mineral that our visitors love to find. Its lime green hue comes from chromium, the same element that colors emerald. Although typically very small, chrome diopside’s intense green color stands out in the dark volcanic soil.

This green gem is sometimes used in jewelry and has industrial value in diopside-based ceramics. Chrome diopside is often found in diamond-bearing locations and also serves as an indicator mineral for prospectors. Like diamonds, chrome diopside can be found in Russia, Canada, South Africa, and Brazil.

A third colorful mineral found at the Crater of Diamonds is amethyst. This purple variety of quartz runs in veins at the park, particularly in the Canary Hill section of the search area. The amethyst here is usually very light, though it can be found in shades ranging from light pink to deep violet in other mines around the world. Its distinguishing hue comes from iron impurities and other trace elements.

Amethyst’s beautiful color and shine make it a popular choice for jewelry. Deep purple amethyst traditionally has a higher value, but lighter shades are becoming more widely used. Some of the world’s best amethyst mines are found in Russia, Sri Lanka, Peru, and Uruguay.

These colorful crystals are standouts for many guests at Crater of Diamonds State Park. Keep an eye out for them during your next visit!

Search area last plowed: September 3, 2021

Most recent significant rainfall: October 10, 2021

Recent diamond finds (100 points = 1 carat):

October 10 – Kenny Acuff, Crescent, OK, 11 pt. brown; Adriana Swell, Tyler, TX, 5 pt. white; Chris Horvath, Grapevine, TX, 13 pt. yellow; Nancy E Webb, New Castle, IN, 11 pt. brown
October 11 – Daniel “Van” Crump, Wiggins, MS, 8 pt. white

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