Conflict diamonds aside, diamond mining is a closely watched industry and the folks from De Beers have what amounts to a monopoly on which diamonds eventually hit the market. I can only imagine that it must be backbreaking work to sift through tons of rock and mud to look for the proverbial “diamond in the rough” and then when it’s found how frustrating it must be to have to turn it over into the hands of “the man” and receive little in return for your efforts.
When I think of where most of the world’s diamonds come from I usually think of places like Botswana, Angola, the Congo or any other country that might be considered off the beaten path. I certainly don’t think of a small town in Arkansas by the name of Murfreesboro in the heart of the Ouachita Mountains.
Let’s start by figuring out how the diamonds got there in the first place.
While the area itself covers 911 acres the diamonds are only available on 37.5 of them. It seems that little patch of land is the result of a volcano that exploded about 95 million years ago and has eroded over time. The diamonds first crystallized in something called the "cratonic root" of the volcano. Think of the cratonic root as the continental equivalent of an iceberg where most of it lies buried beneath the surface. When the volcano exploded it released something called "lamproite magma" and carried them to the surface.
On a side note, from what the folks at Wiki tell me, diamonds that have lamproite as a source are a pretty unusual occurrence. The vast majority of diamonds use something called "kimberlite" as their source.
But what really sets this mine apart from all of the rest is that it’s the only one in the world that’s open to the general public. That means any Tom, Dick or Harry can plunk down a small fee, grab a shovel, bucket and any other tools of the trade and try their hand at mining diamonds. As an added bonus, if you’re lucky enough to find one, you get to keep it.
Diamonds have continuously been discovered at the Crater of Diamonds State Park since 1906. Another claim to fame is that the park has so far yielded the only diamond ever graded as “perfect” by folks that know about things like that.
A farmer by the name of John Huddlestone made the first discovery and when word leaked out Murfreesboro and the surrounding towns were soon inundated with people trying to strike it rich. Most of them weren’t successful since the diamonds seemed to be concentrated in a very small area and soon gave up.
Early attempts at turning the site into a commercial diamond mining enterprise were unsuccessful and in the 1950’s the property was opened up to the general public. The land was purchased in 1972 by the State of Arkansas and turned into a state park. It averages about 100,000 visitors a year.
Since the park was opened over 29,000 diamonds have been discovered. On average, it yields two diamonds a day. If you’re lucky enough to find one, they also offer a service that will assess the quality and assign an approximate value to your find.
While most the diamonds found in the park are considered mediocre in quality there have been some that are considered real eye openers. Here’s a partial list of the so-called “sparklers” that keep people coming back in search of the perfect diamond.
In 1975 a diamond that goes by the name of “Amarillo Starlight” was found. It clocked in at 16.37 carats. It remains the largest one found since 1972 when the park opened.
In 1978 the ”Lamle Diamond” , named after its finder was discovered. It measured 8.61 carats.
In 1990, the discovery of the ”Strawn-Wagner Diamond” rocked the diamond seeking world. It was 3.09 carats and to this day it remains the only diamond ever graded “perfect” by the American Gem Society. It remains on display at the park and the odds of finding such a treasure are estimated at one in a billion.
In 2006, the “Okie Dokie Diamond” was found . It weighed in at 4.21 carats and was graded as “flawless”. Later that same year, the ”Sunshine Diamond” was discovered. It measured 5.47 carats and it too was graded as “flawless”.
As recently as 2011, the ”Illusion Diamond” was found. It measured 8.66 carats and marked the largest diamond found on the site in almost thirty years.
So there you have it folks, if you want to go out and try and strike it rich a road trip to Murfreesboro, Arkansas just might be in order. Even if you don’t find a diamond that will provide you with the nest egg in order to retire, at least you can say you tried and hopefully had some fun doing it.
It’s funny, even after all these years on E2, I thought user dannye was the only precious gem in the entire State of Arkansas.
See what happens when you do a little "digging"?
Note: A shout out to user Auduster for his help on explaining how the diamonds got there in the first place.