By Waymon Cox, Park Interpreter, C.I.G. Crater of Diamonds State Park
Greetings from Crater of Diamonds State Park! 2019 was a great year for diamond finds at the Crater. Visitors from Arkansas, 36 other states, and one foreign country found 491 diamonds during the year, including 336 white gems, 73 brown, and 82 yellow. The total weight for all diamonds registered last year was 99.14 carats, 22 carats heavier than all diamonds found in 2018!
The average weight of diamond found last year was around 20 points, or one-fifth of a carat. Though most were found by wet sifting, a method which involves sorting large quantities of gravel by size and weight, about one in every ten diamonds were found on top of the ground at the park, including many of the year’s largest finds!
Visitors found about one diamond per day in January and February 2019. As visitation picked up in March, so did the number of finds. 101 diamonds had been registered by the first day of spring last year, but only one of these weighed more than one carat. March was the busiest month for park visitation, as well as diamond finds, with 71 diamonds registered during the month.
The rate of diamond finds remained fairly steady through spring and early summer, and heavy summer rains also brought heavier diamonds. By the end of July, park visitors had found 297 diamonds, including ten weighing at least one carat. On July 24 Josh Lanik, of Hebron, NE, found the first two-carat-plus diamond of the year. Lanik found his 2.12 ct. brandy-colored gem while surface searching near the West Drain of the park’s diamond search area. He named it the Lanik Family Diamond in honor of an unforgettable experience at Arkansas’s diamond site.
Three weeks later Miranda Hollingshead, of Bogata, TX, brought her family to the Crater of Diamonds after learning that the park is only a couple hours from her home. Hollingshead was sitting on the northeast side of the diamond search area on August 16, watching a YouTube video about how to find diamonds, when she looked down and saw a 3.72 ct. yellow diamond on top of the ground. Hollingshead, a fan of superheroes, named her gem the Caro Avenger.
To expose unsearched diamond-bearing material and create new opportunities for finds, in early fall the park conducted a trenching project along the south end of the search area. Shortly after the project wrapped up, longtime park visitors John and Pat Choate, of Jacksonville, AR, registered their largest diamond yet. While searching on Canary Hill in the search area on October 22, Pat Choate found a 3.29 ct. brown diamond on the surface of the plowed field. She named her gem the Illusive Dream, calling it a dream come true after many years of hard work searching for diamonds.
By the end of last year, visitors had registered 18 diamonds weighing more than one carat at the park. While most visitors don’t find diamonds their first time here, experiences like these are bound to happen once in a while. It’s the anticipation of the next diamond find that makes Crater of Diamonds State Park an exciting place to work at, and an even more exciting place to visit!
Search area last plowed: October 9, 2019
Most recent significant rain: January 18, 2020
Diamond finds for the weeks of January 5 & 12, 2020 (100 points = 1 carat):
January 9 – Jason Ivins, Saint Jo, TX, 2 pt. white
January 11 – Chris & Amy Stanley, Conway, AR, 32 pt. yellow
January 12 – Jason Ivins, Saint Jo, TX, 8 pt. white; Zach Pounds, Nashville, AR, 9 pt. white
January 14 – Dave Rhodes, Hot Springs, AR, 12 pt. white, 17 pt. white
January 15 – Jack Pearadin, Murfreesboro, AR, 71 pt. white
January 17 – Mark & Liz Nelson, Pulaski, TN, 7 pt. white