The 8 Prime Sites To Find And Mine For Diamond In Kentucky In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

The 8 Prime Sites To Find And Mine For Diamond In Kentucky In 2024

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Updated

When it comes to natural wonders, Kentucky is like a hidden treasure chest of rocks and minerals. Imagine all kinds of colorful gems, from twinkling quartz to bold blue geodes. The ground beneath our state is like a patchwork quilt of different rocks, some of which formed millions of years ago.

Amongst all these rocks, there are stories of precious diamonds hiding in Kentucky’s landscapes. But here’s the thing about this gem: they are super rare. Finding diamonds in Kentucky, even for the most expert rockhounds, is tough. But it’s not impossible.

There are prime sites where you can find Kentucky diamonds, such as Chance, Montpelier, and Russell County. So, if you’re up for an adventure and maybe a road trip, Kentucky is here to impress with some sparkling diamonds as a bonus!

What Is Kentucky Diamond Anyway?

A loose rough white diamond
Rough diamond photo provided by and available for purchase at NarshihaGemAndJewels

Diamonds may be chunks of carbon, the same stuff in your pencil lead, but they’re made way down deep in the Earth under intense heat and pressure. Over billions of years, this carbon gets squished and cooked until it becomes a diamond.

The value of diamonds isn’t just because of their sparkle, but how rare and tough they are. They’re the hardest natural material ever known. That means they can cut through almost anything, which is why people use them for all sorts of tools, from cutting rocks to making tiny parts for electronics.

Diamonds also have a special way of bending light that makes them sparkle like crazy, and because they’re so hard, they last forever. People love them for jewelry like engagement rings because they symbolize something unbreakable and eternal, just like the love the ring is supposed to represent.

If you want to find this gem, it’s essential to understand how to identify diamonds in the field. You usually find them in a type of rock called kimberlite. Most diamonds are dug up in big mines in Russia, Botswana, Canada, and Australia. But sometimes, you can find them in rivers too.

Even though diamonds are all the way down in mines or hidden in riverbeds, people have gone to amazing lengths to get them because of their beauty and usefulness.

How We Found The Best Diamond Locations in Kentucky
When it comes to choosing the best options for finding Kentucky diamond there are plenty of things we consider. Many of the best locations are closely guarded secrets which can make it really difficult for more casual rock hunters to find success. The key factors in our recommendations are:

  • The deep experience and understanding of our team about the area
  • Recommendations from local groups and clubs
  • How easy it is to get the a particular location
  • Safety and potential hazards when collecting
  • Weighing private and public locations
  • The ability for both experienced and novice rock enthusiasts to find great samples

With these factors in mind we’ve been able to put together a fantastic list that just about anyone can use!

The Best Places To Find Diamond in Kentucky

An exquisite 13.33-carat pink diamond
Pink diamond photo provided by frenchbluediamond

There are plenty of great gem mine sites in Kentucky, all of which have interesting rocks and minerals just waiting to be uncovered. But if you’re specially targeting Kentucky diamonds, here are the prime sites you can explore:

Always Confirm Access and Collection Rules!

Before heading out to any of the locations on our list you need to confirm access requirements and collection rules for both public and private locations.

These requirements are subject to change without notice and may differ from what we state below.

Always get updated information directly from the source ahead of time to ensure responsible rockhounding.

Chance

A portion of Adair County, where Chance is, showing trees and a dried-up stream

The Chance area is tucked away in the eastern part of oour state, known for its rolling hills and lush green forests. It’s part of the Appalachian Mountains, which means you’re in for some amazing views and a whole lot of exploring.

Its terrain here is pretty rugged, with winding trails that take you through some thick woods, over babbling creeks, and past hidden waterfalls. Geologically, Chance is fascinating. It’s famous for its sedimentary rocks, like limestone and sandstone, which have been layered over millions of years.

Getting to Chance is an adventure by itself. If you’re coming from the big city, you’ll drive through some twisty mountain roads. The closest big town is Hazard. From there, you can take Highway 15 to the heart of the Appalachians.

But before you start collecting, make sure to revisit and review Kentucky’s local collecting guidelines.

Where we found diamond in Chance

In the summer of 1888, a remarkable discovery was made on Henry Burris’s farm, located two miles north of the Chance area near Cabin Fork Creek. A brilliant gem-quality diamond, octahedral in form and weighing 0.776 carat, was found here.

This precious stone was appraised by G. A. Schultz, a jeweler from Louisville, and it was sold for $20. Today, this diamond is part of the collection at the Smithsonian Institution.

Rock pick being used

The tools every geode hunter will need

When you're out looking for geodes having the right tools for the job is very important. You don't need a lot for most trips but there are a handful that are critical and will make your life a lot easier.

We get asked a lot about the equipment we use. Over the years we've found a handful of tools that we recommend to both new and experienced geode hunters which we outline in great detail in our complete rockhounding tools and kit guide. These are quality options that also happen to be relatively inexpensive.

Below are the basic tools that make your life so much easier and save you a ton of time. Check out the full guide to see everything we recommend bringing. One quick note, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases but we try very hard to only recommend gear we would use ourselves and often recommend brands you can't find on Amazon.

At a minimum you should have:

1 - Sturdy rock hammer: The Estwing Rock Pick is our standard

2 - Rugged chisels: Try Kendo' 3-piece Chisel Set

3 - Compact shovel: The Koleiya 28-inch shovel works well

4 - Rock screen pan: The Wazakura Soil Sieve Set fits the bill

5 - Eye protection: DeWalt Safety Glasses are cheap and comfortable

6 - Head protection: Malta's Safety Helmet has been our go-to

7 - Jewelers lens with at least 20x magnification: Jarlink's Jewelers Loop is perfect

The geode-finding books that we use most

There are also a few books that have been extremely helpful in the search for gems. These books have great recommendations and tips:

National Audubon Society Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals: North America 

Southeast Treasure Hunter's Gem & Mineral Guide 

Earth Treasures: The Southeastern Quadrant 

We provide links to find these tools on Amazon but some can also be found at your local hardware stores. For more recommendations check out the link to our full tool guide above.

Montpelier

Lush forests surrounding clear paths at Adair County where Montpelier is

Montpelier is a spot with a rich geologic tapestry. It’s mostly draped in layers from the Mississippian period, with the Renfro and Muldraugh Members of the Borden Formation and Fort Payne Formation covering nearly half of the landscape.

About 19% of the region showcases the undivided Salem, Warsaw, and Harrodsburg Limestones, offering a glimpse into the ancient sea life that once thrived here. Its terrain is also dotted with limestone bodies, including the Cane Valley Limestone Member, which accounts for 18% of the area.

To get to Montpelier, you’d likely travel through the city of Columbia, the seat of Adair County. From there, navigating the local roads will lead you into the heart of this geologically diverse region.

Where we found diamond in Montpelier

You can likely find diamonds in Montpelier if you search through the Russell Creek tributary in the area.

Russell County

A local creek at the Russell County

Russell County is a spot with diverse and interesting geology that can excite any rock hunter. Its surface is largely covered by geological formations from the Mississippian period.

About almost half of the area is composed of the Renfro and Muldraugh Members of the Borden Formation and the Fort Payne Formation, which offer a peek into the area’s ancient past.

The Knifely Sandstone member of the Fort Payne Formation, covering a part of the county, offers a different texture to the landscape, which is a delight if you’re looking for unique specimens.

To get to Russell County, you’d need to drive through the city of Jamestown, which is the county seat. From there, local roads will guide you into the heart of this geologically rich region.

Where we found diamond in the Russell County

An unidentified stream in the vicinity of Russell County has produced a diamond weighing 0.44 ct so it would be best to start your exploration for this gem in the stream areas of this county.

Common Diamond-Hunting Questions

A rough diamond on kimberlite
Diamond on kimberlite photo provided by the.diamondcity

In this section, we’ll answer the most commonly-asked question when it comes to finding diamonds in Kentucky:

Is it illegal to collect diamond in Kentucky?

You can collect rocks from creeks in Kentucky, but you need to get a permit from the Department for Natural Resources first.

It’s illegal to take gravel, mine for limestone, dolomite, sand, clay, fluorspar, and other vein minerals, or make other surface disturbances without a permit. This means that if you happen to find a diamond in a creek, you’d need to have the proper permit to legally collect it.

For more area-specific guidelines, you may check with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) any rules and regulations that apply to diamond collection here.

The Best Places To Buy Diamond In Kentucky

A peak at the front store window and building of the Diamond Design Jewelers

Since diamonds are naturally rare, another great way you can find (and take home!) one is to visit our local shops that have them. Just take note that you’ll find a mix of diamonds that are raw, cut, polished, and even set on jewelry in these stores:

About Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Keith Jackson is an avid rockhound who is constantly exploring new sites to expand his collection. He has worked as a professional Geologist for over 20 years and holds a PhD in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Masters Degree in Geology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a Bachelors Degree in Geology from the University of Connecticut.

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