Join 3,433 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


DIY Diamond Mining
December 11, 2006 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Crater of Diamonds State Park Interested in obtaining diamonds but feeling troubled by the diamond business? Head over to Arkansas and dig your own damned diamonds.
posted by Burhanistan (24 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Digging is for suckers. When I want a diamond, I make one.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:24 AM on December 11, 2006


Sounds like fun.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:37 AM on December 11, 2006


Just by wearing diamonds, you're supporting the myth of the "valuable diamond" that DeBeers' marketing has so meticulously created. It's that mythology that makes diamonds valuable—and makes them such a great currency for warlords and terrorists. So it doesn't matter how "ethically" your diamond was obtained, just by wearing it you create the demand that keeps the whole thing going.
posted by jefgodesky at 8:45 AM on December 11, 2006 [3 favorites]


So, I've always wondered: can you actually seek out and buy diamonds that were found in places like this? It seems like a good way to KNOW that you're avoiding the evils associated with diamond mining, if you're hellbent on diamonds.

On preview: jefgodesky is right, of course, in that you're still indirectly helping out the industry, but since you can't buy synthetics that are indistinguishable from naturally-occurring ones (or at least that's my understanding... I think De Beers is throwing lawsuits left and right to mandate that synthetic manufacturers 'dope' theirs so that gemologists can tell the difference, though I haven't heard about the status of said lawsuits in some time), this seems like it's at least marginally less evil.
posted by Mayor West at 8:51 AM on December 11, 2006


Time for DeBeers to move outta Dodge.
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:05 AM on December 11, 2006


In upstate New York, you can dig for Herkimer diamonds (actually "double-terminated quartz crystals".
posted by maurice at 9:16 AM on December 11, 2006


(make sure you paste over the http in the pop-up link window, maurice)
posted by Burhanistan at 9:18 AM on December 11, 2006


Mayor West: the answer to that used to be to buy a Canadian diamond, and make sure it was certified as "conflict-free", or something like that. The company had a name like ... Polar Bear?

Anyway, I believe DeBeers now has a controlling stake in them, so whether that's a morally superior choice is debatable (I could be wrong about that, though).
posted by spaceman_spiff at 9:19 AM on December 11, 2006


I want a diamond big enough that I can make a small knife out of it and hide it in my forearm in a sheathe made with my skin.

/somewhat obscure sf reference
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 9:51 AM on December 11, 2006


t's that mythology that makes diamonds valuable—and makes them such a great currency for warlords and terrorists. So it doesn't matter how "ethically" your diamond was obtained, just by wearing it you create the demand that keeps the whole thing going.

Horray for jefgodesky, it is worth repeating.
posted by elpapacito at 10:54 AM on December 11, 2006


Just by wearing diamonds, you're supporting the myth of the "valuable diamond" that DeBeers' marketing has so meticulously created.

So true, jefgodesky. This is a company that paid movie producers to place diamonds in movies in the first half of the 20th century, to create the now-accepted association between diamonds and love. Not to mention manufacturing from whole cloth the idea about how rare diamonds supposedly are.

Screw 'em. It looks like public opinion is starting to turn the other way.I mean, Leo DiCaprio, for hell's sake!
posted by gurple at 10:56 AM on December 11, 2006


Chatham, Apollo, and Gemesis all make diamonds from scratch, and I strongly recommend them. (I gave my fiance a blue diamond from Chatham. She -loves- it and proudly proclaims the victory of science over slavery to everyone who asks her about it.) For one thing, these companies avoid problems both at the mining and at the sorting/cutting/polishing level; most Indian diamond polishers are still bonded child laborers. The same goes for the miners in non-conflict zones; just because the diamonds aren't being used to buy weapons to arm a conscripted child-soldier doesn't mean they're mined by well-paid adult professionals. That is, most diamonds on the market have been either mined or polished by children who have been enslaved or indentured to work off an unpayable debt for their parents.

If you're willing to pay a peace of mind tax of three to four times market value, you can get a diamond that's probably not been worked by children. That requires a Canadian diamond cut and polished in Israel. Since the Israelis don't polish anything under a carat, you're talking about a minium investment of $8,000 US. Even then, you'll still be feeding the demand for diamonds. You can't avoid the economics of the diamond industry by temporarily enslaving yourself to do the job, either, as jefgodesky points out. You can't sidestep this problem with sapphires or other precious gemstones, either. They have the same slave-labor production model, only there's a smaller profit margin, and no major motion picture or Kimberley process devoted to them.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:00 AM on December 11, 2006


it doesn't matter how "ethically" your diamond was obtained, just by wearing it you create the demand that keeps the whole thing going.

Yep. Has always been the same issue with fake fur, too.
posted by dreamsign at 11:07 AM on December 11, 2006


Wyoming ^ has some big ones
posted by hortense at 11:17 AM on December 11, 2006


I went to that park with my grandparents years ago. It rained the night before and we spent a couple hours knee deep in mud with fifty or sixty middle-aged people. I didn't dig up anything, though my grandfather bought me a teeny jewel from the gift shop as a reward for suffering through the mire with them.

If I went back now it would probably be more fun.
posted by Saellys at 11:37 AM on December 11, 2006


I went there with my family as a kid. Picture hundreds of people with spades and shovels digging in the dirt, in baking hot sun. Pointless and boring and frustrating.
posted by Foosnark at 11:50 AM on December 11, 2006


We went to the park in July 1978. I found a tiny diamond-like rock about the size of 2 or 3 matchstick heads. My parents said not to do the "free identification" service for some reason... I guess either they were suspicious of the people or they rigged my dirt with a fake stone. Either way it was fun, and yeah, a real people show too.
posted by chef_boyardee at 11:54 AM on December 11, 2006


Also went to this dirt farm turned park when I was a kid. Its kinda weird to have a pile of dirt magically sprout diamonds but only in this relatively limited area.

If you're ever tempted to go, go after a rainstorm (as thats the best time to find anything), and, for God's sake, don't go during the summer.

Commercial mining interests have explored the area but there are apparently not enough diamonds to make it profitable.
posted by pandaharma at 11:57 AM on December 11, 2006


Diamond Mining.
posted by hortense at 12:00 PM on December 11, 2006


Can I regain some of my liberal cred by pointing out that I'd be much more interested in the "lamproite, amethyst, banded agate, jasper, peridot, garnet, quartz, calcite, barite and hematite" than the diamonds? It's mainly the digging-about-looking-for-stones part that appeals to the dwarf in me.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:19 PM on December 11, 2006


There be mithril in these Arkansas hills!
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 1:36 PM on December 11, 2006


It's easier find and dig worthless (except to the woo-woo crowd) quartz crystals in Arkansas, near Hot Springs.
We did the diamond dig a couple of times. My 7 yr old loved it.
posted by hockeyman at 2:13 PM on December 11, 2006


Native Arkansan here. I grew up in Hot Springs, a couple hours away from Murfreesboro, and the Crater of Diamonds was/is a popular place for elementary school field trips. I went when I was in 4th grade.

The place is just acres and acres of slightly hilly, muddy earth. Not beautiful, but just the possibility of finding a diamond is damn exciting. The rangers are quick to point out that your chances of finding an actual diamond are extremely slim, and a lot of finds that people make are actually quartz crystals that look like diamonds. Then again, there are different types of diamonds that look like quartz--yellowish, opaque, etc. I remember finding one of these quartz crystals while digging and stuck it in my back pocket, only later finding out it could very well be a diamond. I checked my pocket later and the damn thing fell out somewhere.

I just tell myself now that it was worthless quartz.
posted by zardoz at 5:36 PM on December 11, 2006


I'd have much more use for the quartz....
posted by jefgodesky at 2:23 PM on December 12, 2006


« Older Female Mask Site Galleries....  |  Architecture and the Velvet Fi... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments