Valentine Engagement at Crater of Diamonds

People visit the Crater of Diamonds State Park for a variety of reasons.

While some simply enjoy the thrill of searching for diamonds, others come to “get away from it all” and don’t necessarily mind if they don’t find a diamond. Other visitors want to find a diamond for betrothal to that “Special Someone,” and couples who simply love searching for diamonds and collecting other rocks and minerals together.

Over the years, Crater of Diamonds State Park has become quite a popular spot for sweethearts looking to “pop the question.” Such is the case for a North Carolina couple who visited the park recently, according to a state park news release.

On February 10, Jared Wilke and Kristy Howell, of Bakersville, North Carolina, came to the Crater for a fun weekend of diamond mining together.  It was the couple’s second visit in about a year, but Jared had plans to make this visit even more memorable than the first.

After learning how to sift for diamonds last year, Jared and Kristy built their own screens to use during their return visit. On their first day back at the park, Jared told Kristy he wanted to videotape himself using the screens to show his dad how they worked.

He set up a video camera in the search area to record himself sifting for diamonds. As he searched with Kristy nearby, Jared suddenly called out, “I think I’ve found something!” When Kristy went to investigate, she discovered that he didn’t just have a diamond, but a diamond ring!

“I couldn’t think of a better time or place,” Jared said of the proposal, which Kristy eagerly accepted.

The Crater of Diamonds has been one of the couple’s favorite places to visit. According to Kristy, “We both love all kinds of rocks and gems.” Their favorite aspects of the park include the variety of rocks and minerals that can be found here, the expanse of the diamond search area, and the helpful and friendly park staff.

Kristy’s engagement ring features a round cut diamond, which once belonged to Jared’s great-grandmother, with pink spinel accent stones mounted on either side.

The couple spent five days at the park during their most recent visit, and though they haven’t yet found their Crater diamond, Kristy says they plan to continue searching for it.

“I imagine we’ll wind up visiting [the park] more than once a year,” she explains, “We have such a great time there!

Search area last plowed:  February 24, 2012

Most recent heavy rain:  February 21, 2012

Total diamonds found in 2012: 67

Latest Recorded Finds (100 points = one carat):

  • February 14 – 31 points yellow
  • February 19 – 16 points white
  • February 20 – 15 points yellow
  • February 20 – 9 points white
  • February 20 – 71points brown
  • February 20 – 14 points white
  • February 20 – 3 points white
  • February 20 – 5 points brown
  • February 20 – 6 points white
  • February 20 – 15 points yellow
  • February 21 – 3 points white
  • February 22 – 62 points white
  • February 23 – 14 points brown
  • February 24 – 13 points brown
  • February 24 – 8 points white
  • February 24 – 11 points white
  • February 25 – 5 points white
  • February 25 – 7 points yellow

How Do I Search for Diamonds?

How you search for diamonds usually depends on how much time you have to search or weather conditions at the park.

There are three methods of diamond searching. Surface searching consists of walking up and down the rows of dirt looking for diamonds lying on top of the ground. This is the most productive method following a hard rain. Rain washes the soil away, leaving diamonds and other rocks and minerals exposed on the surface.

Most visitors like to dig in the soil and screen for diamonds. This usually involves searching through the first six inches to one foot of soil. Visitors can turn the soil over with a small hand tool while looking in the loose soil. Some visitors like to use a screen to sift the soil.

The third method of diamond hunting requires a lot of hard work, and previous experience is helpful. This method is usually preferred by the repeat or regular visitor, and involves digging deep holes, removing the right type soil, washing the soil in a series of screens and patiently hand sorting the concentrated gravels from the screens.

Some searchers look for low areas in the field where diamonds may have settled out over the years, or for tailings from the earlier commercial mining plants of the 20’s and 30’s. Tailings are the waste gravel that went out of the plant. Over the years, these tailing piles were covered by topsoil. The experienced regular hunters look for the tiny gravel, dig it up and wash it again by hand, looking for the small diamonds.

Please Note: This is the ninth in an on-going series of stories on Crater of Diamonds, an Arkansas State Park

Worth Pondering…
A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.

—John Steinbeck

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