Welcome to the Crater of Diamonds in Murfreesboro, Arkansas in the US. This is the world’s only diamond mine that is open to public and you can look for diamonds and keep what you find once you pay the small entry fee. The site was originally a crater that has been plowed into fine dirt following the hundreds of thousands of amateur enthusiasts who dig through this 37-acre land every year while they search for the precious stones. Some of the miners make use of a special sieve known as ‘seruca’ for washing and separating the heavier diamonds from the lighter debris while others opt for more crude methods such as getting down on hand and knees while they claw at the dirt and look for jewels among the dirt.
After more than a hundred years since its discovery, the Crater of Diamonds has given thousands of diamonds along with loads of semi-precious gems. It also gave the 40-carat ‘Uncle Sam’ – the largest diamond ever discovered in America. As per Park officials, visitors are able to find more than 600 diamonds every year of all grades and colors. More than 31,000 diamonds have been found in this crater since 1972 when it became a state park.
These diamonds were formed some three billion years ago in the Earth’s mantle about 60-100 miles below the earth’s surface where carbon was subjected to very high amounts of pressures and temperatures thus getting crystallized. Almost 100 million years back, a magma’s rising column brought the material closer to the surface where it exploded in a large volcano thus forming an 80-acre crate and covering the surrounding landscape with ejecta. The ejecta had fragments of mantle rocks that got carried up to the surface along with the rising magma. These fragments are called ‘xenoliths’ and contain the diamonds. Over the years, the atmospheric weathering has eroded the ejecta and left behind some really resistant and stable diamonds in the soil. Other precious gems along with diamonds contain agate, amethyst and jasper.
First discovery of diamonds was made back in 1906 by John Huddlestone who stumbled across two bizarre crystals in the soil of his farm and upon assessment by a local jeweler, came to know that they were genuine diamonds. He sold the land to a group of investors for $36,000. Following failure of a number of a commercial mining, the property was opened as a public pay-to-prospect mine in early 1950s and its name was changed to ‘Crater of Diamonds’. The State of Arkansas purchased the property in 1972 and changed the name to ‘Crater of Diamonds State Park’.