Southern Agenda

Diamond a Dozen

Earlier this year, a visitor to the Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro dug up a whopping 3.29-carat brown diamond, likely worth several thousand dollars, the largest found at the park in the past two years. Since 1972, when the site became a state park and one of the world’s only public diamond mines, it has produced some 35,000 shiny finds, including the impressive 16.37-carat Amarillo Starlight diamond. Fall usually offers a break from the heat as visitors search an open thirty-seven-acre field along the surface of a volcanic crater. And that’s not all that glitters in the state: High-quality quartz crystals hide just under the surface. At the numerous active mines in Arkansas, you’ll need a guide service such as Avant Mining, a favored gem-hunting hire for celebrities. “We’ve had Aaron Rodgers and actors Danny Trejo and Terrence Howard all come to mine crystals here,” says Avant’s Ciji Sampson. The company runs nearly two dozen locations, including the state’s only turquoise mine.