Creative Contraptions for Discovering Diamonds

By Waymon Cox, Park Interpreter II for Crater of Diamonds State Park


Greetings from Crater of Diamonds State Park! We’ve had a typical start to Arkansas spring this year, with hot, cold, wet, and dry weather in the past few days. Last week Arkansas State Parks resumed limited in-person interpretive programming for the first time since COVID-19 restrictions went into effect. I gave my first diamond mining demonstration of the year on Saturday. Although it had been 373 days between my last demo, I could still throw a pile of gravel like I had never stopped. My 16 years of giving diamond mining demonstrations before COVID-19 probably helped.

Since the park has suspended mining equipment rentals during the pandemic, most visitors now bring their own tools from home or from one of the local businesses and individuals who rent and sell mining equipment. Buckets, shovels, and screens are the most common tools of the trade, but it’s interesting to see other unique gear people bring to help them find diamonds.

On more than one occasion, visitors have brought large magnifiers on long handles to help them examine the soil more closely without bending over. These simple utensils usually catch our attention because at first glance they look somewhat like metal detectors (which aren’t allowed in the park). However, it doesn’t take long to see they are actually used to find treasure on top of the ground, not underground.

A couple weeks ago, I also spoke with a man who was using a pair of binoculars to scan the surface for diamonds. I also used binoculars to search for diamonds once, and it was an interesting experience. The most challenging part was trying not to trip while keeping my eye on a sparkly object that was several yards away. I didn’t find a diamond that day, but I didn’t sprain my ankle, either!

Some visitors get quite elaborate in their efforts to find diamonds. On a few days last month, a group of visitors hauled a huge stack of screens on a wagon to the East Drain of the search area. The screens started large on top and graduated to smaller sizes near the bottom. The owners emptied buckets of dirt into the top and poured water over the material to wash it down, removing the soil and separating the gravel by size. They removed the fine gravel from the lower screens and sifted it further in a nearby pool of water.

Whether simple or complex, people have lots of ideas how to find diamonds at the Crater. I’ve enjoyed meeting many of the people who have visited the park this month and look forward to seeing many other interesting diamond-finding gadgets in the future!

Search area last plowed: March 10, 2021

Most recent significant precipitation: March 23, 2021

Diamond finds for the week of March 14, 2021 (100 points = 1 carat):

March 15 – Larry Taylor, Fayetteville, WV, 14 pt. white; Frank Stallings, Paducah, KY, 5 pt. brown
March 17 – Frank Stallings, Paducah, KY, 6 pt. white

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