Earlier this fall, Seth and Jessica Erickson, of Chatfield, MN, embarked on an 11-state road trip for their tenth anniversary. They had known about Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park for years and planned a special stop at America’s only public diamond mine along the way. Their time at the park paid off when the couple found a brown diamond weighing nearly two carats!
The Ericksons arrived at the Crater of Diamonds early on Friday, September 23. They spent the morning digging dirt and by 11 a.m. were wet sifting at the North Washing Pavilion in the park’s 37.5-acre diamond search area. There they met some of the park’s friendly regular visitors, who helped them learn how to sift properly. Although most diamonds are found after flipping gravel onto a flat surface, after about an hour of wet sifting Seth spotted a metallic-looking gem in the bottom of his screen. He knew right away it was a diamond and excitedly showed his wife.
The couple placed the iced tea-color gem in a clear vial and carried it to the park’s Diamond Discovery Center, where staff registered it as a 1.90-carat brown diamond about the size of a pony bead.
Many people who find diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park choose to name their gems. The Ericksons named theirs HIMO, the initials of each of their children.
Wet sifting is a method used by many guests to search for diamonds. Park Interpreter Tayler Markham says, “Two screens are used to wet sift. The top screen has a bigger mesh size, one-quarter of an inch, while the bottom screen is smaller, about 1/16 of an inch. Guests submerge screen sets in water to wash away the soil. Once the soil is removed, the gravel is then separated by size and weight to make it diamonds easier to find.” According to park staff, about three-fourths of all diamonds registered at the Crater of Diamonds are found by wet sifting.
As of this publication, 621 diamonds have been registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park in 2022. An average of one to two diamonds are found by park visitors each day.
Quick Facts about Crater of Diamonds State Park
Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow. The three most common colors found at Crater of Diamonds State Park are white, brown, and yellow, in that order.
In total, over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at the Crater of Diamonds since the first diamonds were discovered in 1906 by John Huddleston, a farmer who owned the land long before it became an Arkansas State Park in 1972. More than 35,000 diamonds have been found by park guests since that time.
The largest diamond ever discovered in the United States was unearthed in 1924 during an early mining operation. Named the Uncle Sam, this white diamond with a pink cast weighed 40.23 carats. It was later cut into a 12.42-carat emerald shape. The Uncle Sam is now part of the Smithsonian’s mineral and gem collection and can be seen at the National Museum of Natural History.
Another well-known diamond from the park is the Strawn-Wagner. Found in 1990 by Murfreesboro resident Shirley Strawn, this 3.03-carat white gem was cut into a round brilliant shape weighing 1.09 carats. It graded as ideal cut, D-colorless and flawless and was set in a platinum and 24-carat gold ring. In 1998, the State of Arkansas purchased this diamond for $34,700 in donations and placed it on permanent display at the park visitor center.
On Labor Day 2020, Kevin Kinard of Maumelle found a large, brown gem weighing 9.07 carats. It is the second-largest diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park.
Crater of Diamonds State Park is located on Arkansas Highway 301 in Murfreesboro. It is one of 52 state parks administered by Arkansas State Parks, a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism.
Arkansas State Parks
Arkansas State Parks is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. Arkansas state parks and museums cover 54,400 acres of forest, wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation facilities, and unique historic and cultural resources. Established in 1923, Arkansas State Parks preserve special places for future generations, provide quality recreation and education opportunities, enhance the state’s economy through tourism and provide leadership in resource conservation. Connect with ASP on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and visit ArkansasStateParks.com and ArkansasStateParks.com/media to learn more.
Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism
The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism protects and promotes our state’s natural, cultural and historic assets, contributing to a thriving economy and high quality of life. It is made up of three divisions: Arkansas State Parks, Arkansas Heritage and Arkansas Tourism. Stacy Hurst serves as the cabinet secretary for the department.
Search area last plowed: September 27, 2022
Most recent significant rainfall: October 29, 2022
Diamond highlights (100 points = 1 carat):
October 31 Nelson Sheets, Murfreesboro, AR, 10 pt. white
October 31 David Anderson, Murfreesboro, AR, 10 pt. brown
October 31 Jamie Randt, Anoka, MN, 2 pt. brown
November 1 Isabella Hardej & Nelson Black, Austin, TX, 2 pt. white
November 2 Steve Carr, Jackson, MO, 2 pt. white