The Right Tools for Wet Sifting

By: Waymon Cox


Greetings from Crater of Diamonds State Park! During my years at this park, I have shown thousands of people how to search for diamonds. Wet sifting is one of the most effective diamond searching methods used at the park. It helps you go through more dirt than other searching methods, and you can wet sift just about any time of year!

The more soil you wet sift, the better your chances are of finding a diamond. Families and other groups that work well together can wet sift more dirt than any individual, but having the right type and amount of equipment is important. If you want to wet sift for diamonds with your friends or family, the following tips will help ensure that you have the right tools for the job.

The most essential tool for wet sifting is a sifting screen. The park rents a set of two screens in graduated sizes for wet sifting. The screen set features a large, quarter-inch mesh above a fine, sixteenth-inch mesh. The two screens work together to separate gravel by size, enabling you to process a lot of dirt at one time.

Two or three people can share one screen set easily. Usually, one person will sift a screenful of soil and dump the washed gravel out to search for a diamond. While the first person examines the sifted gravel, someone else can use the screens to process more dirt. If two people are inspecting their gravel at the same time, a third person may also be able to use the screens. If you are working with several people, multiple screen sets can further increase the amount of dirt processed at one time. For example, a group of four people with two screen sets is more efficient than four people with one screen set.

A shovel is the second most useful tool for wet sifting. Medium or larger shovels are better, since they can scoop more dirt at one time. The park rents trenching shovels, as well as long-handled gardening shovels.

One shovel per screen set is usually enough, since you will only need it when digging more dirt to wet sift. Groups with younger kids often rent extra shovels to keep them occupied while they aren’t sifting. The park also sells small hand shovels at the gift shop for kids or anyone who doesn’t want to carry a larger, heavier rental shovel.

A bucket isn’t necessary but makes it easier to carry dirt for wet sifting. The park rents 3.5-gallon buckets for visitors to transport dirt to washing pavilions in the diamond search area. Many visitors also bring their own buckets to take sifted gravel home and search for diamonds later. Each visitor can take up to five gallons of sifted gravel home per day.

One bucket can supply enough dirt for two or three screen sets to wet sift at the same time. It generally takes about 35 minutes to process a bucket of dirt with one screen set. Groups with three or more screen sets might want to rent an extra bucket to collect more dirt.

The saruca is another optional tool for wet sifting. A saruca is a fine, round screen with a bowl shape for resifting gravel. The concave bottom concentrates heavy gravel to the center of the screen when used in water. When flipped over on a table, heavier material and diamonds will appear on top of the gravel pile. The saruca isn’t necessary for wet sifting but can be useful for larger families planning to take sifted gravel home. It can help concentrate heavy gravel and make it easier to find diamonds.

Wet sifting is one of the most effective ways for families and groups to search for diamonds. Having the right tools in the right amount can maximize your chances of finding a diamond and help you have a great experience at Crater of Diamonds State Park!

Search area last plowed: September 3, 2021

Most recent significant rainfall: November 2, 2021

Recent diamond finds (100 points = 1 carat):

October 31 – Jennifer O’Brien, Bloomfield, MI, 1.24 ct. yellow; Marissa Mouton, Arnaudville, LA, 16 pt. white
November 2 – Jeff Borcherding, Blanchardville, WI, 6 pt. white, 14 pt. white
November 3 – Dustin Galvin, Shueyville, IA, 6 pt. white
November 6 – Chase Galvin, Shueyville, IA, 2 pt. white

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