Rain is a Good Thing

By Sarah Reap

Bobbie Oskarson holding the 8.52-carat diamond she found at the Crater of Diamonds on June 24, 2015. Submitted photo.

Greetings from Crater of Diamonds State Park! One of the most frequently asked questions at the park is, “When is the best time to search for diamonds?” Any day is a good day to search, but many park guests like to look for diamonds after a good rain. Rain increases the chances of finding diamonds on top of the ground in the park’s plowed diamond search area. Surface searching after rain can be one of the easiest ways to find a diamond at Crater of Diamonds.

Surface searching requires no tools, just walking and looking along the surface of the search area, similar to looking for a dropped coin or other small, shiny object. The best method for surface searching is to pick an area in the field and systematically walk up and down the rows, keeping your eyes on the ground and looking in every direction. If you see an object that shines from every angle, you may want to inspect it further. You can surface search in almost any weather, but surface searching tends to be more successful after rain.

When rain falls on the plowed rows of the search area, it washes away the lighter dirt and leaves heavier rocks, minerals, and diamonds exposed to the surface. Diamonds found on the surface are often larger than those found by sifting, usually weighing more than a third of a carat. Some of the park’s largest diamonds have been found on the surface, including the 6.07-carat Schall diamond, found here in 1981.

Park staff recommend waiting three days after rain for surface searching. Usually by then, all the rain has passed and the sun has come out. Sunlight is a key ingredient for surface searching because a diamond will reflect the sun’s rays, making it shine and sparkle. Waiting three days also allows time for the field to dry, making a diamond more noticeable against the dark backdrop of volcanic soil.
On average, park guests find between 300 and 500 diamonds each year. Surface finds make up roughly ten percent of all diamonds found at the park. Thanks to increased rainfall, surface searching has proven to be an effective method for finding diamonds this year. During the first half of 2023, the park received 47.7 inches of rain, less than one inch under precipitation totals for all of 2022!

Last year, park guests picked up 34 diamonds on the surface. This year, six months in, park staff have already registered 24 surface finds. Visitors found nine diamonds on the surface in March alone, after 13 inches of rain fell on the park. On June 25, the park received over four inches of rain. Two days later, a lucky couple from Texas picked up an 88 pt. yellow diamond from the surface.

Coming to the Crater after a rainstorm can be rewarding but very muddy. If you plan to surface search right after rain, come prepared with rubber boots and clothes you can get dirty. Visitors often bring a change of clothes or something to cover their car seats, so as not to get mud everywhere. The park also has a cleanup area with water hoses near the mine entrance to help wash away some of the mess before you leave the park.

According to weather patterns this summer, July may continue the trend of large amounts of rain, while August looks hot and dry, with only a few days of rain. We hope to see you at the Crater this month, trying your luck at post-rain surface searching!
Search area last plowed: July 6, 2023

Most recent significant rainfall: July 14, 2023

Diamond highlights (100 points = 1 carat):

Jul 4 – Sara Patton, Haskell, AR, 17 pt. yellow
Jul 8 – Alan Fox, Murfreesboro, AR, 18 pt. white
Jul 9 – Brad and Kathy Newton, Pearcy, AR, 34 pt. brown
Jul 10 – Scott Kreykes, Dierks, AR, 27 pt. white
Jul 11 – Jacob Bowe, Spring Hill, FL, 8 pt. yellow

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