Where And How To Easily Find And Identify Diamonds – A Complete Guide

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

| Updated

Where And How To Easily Find And Identify Diamonds – A Complete Guide

By Dr. Keith Jackson - Geology PhD

Updated

Diamonds are more than just sparkly gems we see in jewelry stores. They’re formed deep within Earth’s crust and are brought to the surface by powerful volcanic eruptions. Knowing how to identify diamonds can be a fun and useful skill.

Countries like Russia, Botswana, Canada, and Australia produce tons of these precious stones. But diamonds aren’t just found in distant lands. There are also a few spots in the United States where these beauties hide.

We’re going to show you the best places to find diamonds and how to actually identify them when you’re out searching.

Dive in to discover where these treasures come from, how they journey to the surface, and tips for spotting the real thing out in the wild.

What are diamonds?

Made entirely of carbon, diamonds form deep inside the Earth under extreme heat and pressure. It’s fascinating how diamonds form from something as simple as carbon.

Over time, volcanic eruptions bring them closer to the surface for us to discover.

In the United States, places like Arkansas’ Crater of Diamonds State Park are popular spots to hunt for these treasures. These gems are not only a symbol of beauty but also tell a tale of Earth’s incredible forces at work.

The different types of diamonds

When diving into how diamonds are formed, we uncover a world of variety. Not all diamonds are made the same, and each diamond type has its unique features.

Type Ia

cushion cut yellow diamond
Diamond provided by ReuvenVeksler

Type Ia diamonds contain nitrogen atoms, but these atoms are all huddled up in groups or pairs. This gives them a yellowish tint.

While many diamonds around the world can have nitrogen, Type Ia diamonds have it in a specific pattern that sets them apart.

Most diamonds you’ll find in places like South Africa and Australia are of this type, making them a popular and familiar sight in the world of sparkly gems.

Type IaB

rectangular bright yellow diamonds
Diamond provided by NarshihaGemAndJewels

Type IaB diamonds have nitrogen atoms, but they’re not as buddy-buddy as in IaA diamonds. Instead, they’re more spread out, not in pairs. This layout gives them a deeper yellow tint, making them stand out.

IaB diamonds are less common among Ia diamonds, and they make up only a small group of diamonds discovered in diamond-rich areas like Africa.

Type Ib

heart-shaped yellow diamond
Diamond provided by ShantiJewelInc

Type IB diamonds have nitrogen atoms that stand alone, not grouped or paired up with others. This solo act gives them a bold yellow or sometimes brownish color, making them easy to spot.

While there are lots of diamonds out there, only a tiny fraction, about 0.1%, are Type IB. In places loaded with diamonds like Africa, finding a Type IB is a rare treat.

So, when you see a diamond with a strong yellow or brown shade, you’re looking at the rare and unique Type IB.

Type IIa

square cut brown diamond
Diamond provided by ShantiJewelInc

Type IIa diamonds are super pure because they don’t have any nitrogen atoms mixed in. That means they can be colorless or sometimes have a soft brown or gray shade.

Among all the diamonds in the world, about 1-2% are Type IIa. Places like India and parts of Africa sometimes uncover these pure beauties. If you ever see a super clear diamond with no hint of yellow, there’s a chance it could be a Type IIa.

Type IIb

round cut blue diamond
Diamond provided by RocksDiamond

Type IIb diamonds have a bit of boron mixed in, which can give them a dreamy blue shade. They’re even more special because they’re super rare! Only about 0.1% of diamonds are Type IIb.

In the whole wide world, places like India sometimes find these blue wonders. The famous Hope Diamond and Blue Moon Diamond are both Type IIb! So, when you spot a natural blue diamond, you’re seeing one of nature’s rarest treats.

Where to find diamonds

While diamonds are found all over the world, there are a few special places right here at home where these gems pop up. Here are the five best locations in the U.S. where these dazzling treasures can be discovered!

Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas

plowed diamond fields of the Crater of Diamonds State Park

Crater of Diamonds State Park is the only public place in the world where you can find diamonds just waiting to be discovered.

And here’s the super fun part: if you find a diamond, it’s yours to keep! People have found all shapes and sizes of diamonds here, from tiny sparkles to big, show-off gems.

Because the park used to be a volcanic crater, it’s now filled with rich soil that’s perfect for hiding diamonds. So, if you’re in the mood for a diamond-hunting adventure, this park in Arkansas should be on your must-visit list!

Foresthill, California

bridge over a river

Nestled in the heart of California’s Gold Country, Foresthill has a history of diamond discoveries, making it a must-visit for treasure seekers.

When folks dig around here, they often come across unique diamonds, including the ultra-rare blue diamonds! It’s not just the big diamonds that catch the eye; the area is also known for lots of tiny, sparkly diamonds.

Cherokee, California

ruins of a brick building
Cherokee bank ruins by Frank Schulenburg

The town of Cherokee is more than just scenic landscapes and friendly faces. If you’re looking for diamonds, Cherokee might be your next big adventure spot.

Many diamond seekers have unearthed beautiful clear gems, and some even report finding rare yellow diamonds, which are a fantastic find!

You can try your luck here and you might just come across some pretty awesome rocks.

El Dorado County, California

river winding through green hills

Known as one of the premium diamond locations, folks come from far and wide to El Dorado County to try their luck at unearthing shiny treasures here.

The county offers a variety of diamonds – from the brilliant clear ones that sparkle in the sun to rare blue diamonds that look like little pieces of the sky.

This area boasts a rich history and nature’s beauty, making every visit memorable.

Larimer County, Colorado

snow-capped mountain peaks and green hills

Larimer County in Colorado isn’t just famous for its breathtaking mountains and rivers; it’s also a hotspot for diamond seekers! This county has areas rich with diamonds waiting to be discovered.

If you’re on the hunt for some shiny treasures, you might come across clear, sparkling diamonds or even rare yellow and brown ones. These gems are formed deep within the Earth and brought to the surface over time.

How to find diamonds

Finding diamonds is both a thrilling adventure and a test of patience. Knowing some handy tips can increase your chances of striking it lucky.

Look for indicator minerals

Indicator minerals are super helpful in diamond hunting because they can point you in the right direction. In diamond hunting, these minerals are often found near diamond-rich areas.

Common indicator minerals for diamonds include garnet, chromite, and olivine. If you stumble across these minerals, it’s a good sign you’re in a diamond-friendly zone.

Now, just because you spot indicator minerals doesn’t mean you’ll find diamonds right away. But it does mean you’re getting warmer!

Time it right

Timing can be everything, especially in the world of diamond hunting. A little secret on how to find a diamond is to wait just the right amount of time after a rainfall, especially if you plan on visiting the Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Rain washes away the lighter dirt and can reveal heavier stones, like diamonds, on the surface. The perfect time to start your search is about two to three days after it rains. This gives the ground enough time to dry up, making your search easier.

Feel the weight

You might be surprised to learn that your own hands can be a great tool for diamond hunting. Feeling the weight of rocks can give you clues about where to find diamonds in real life.

Diamonds are much denser than many other stones, so they feel heavier than you’d expect for their size. If you pick up a handful of stones and one stands out as feeling especially hefty, that rock might just be a diamond!

Compare its weight to other stones of the same size. If it feels noticeably heavier, it could be a sign you’re onto something special.

Use a sieve

If you’re near riverbeds, grab a sieve! This tool acts like a special net, catching bigger rocks and possible diamonds. Here’s how it works: when you scoop up some gravel and shake it in the water, the sieve filters out the smaller stuff.

Remember that diamonds are super heavy for their size. So, while tiny pebbles and sand rush out, diamonds tend to stay put. This method gives you a clear look at what’s left behind, increasing your chances of spotting a hidden gem.

How to identify diamonds once you find it

Finding a potential diamond is just the first step in a thrilling adventure. Next comes the equally exciting task of figuring out if that shiny stone is the real deal. Luckily, there are some cool tricks and signs to help you out.

What diamonds look like on the outside

While diamonds are famous for their sparkle when polished, their raw outer appearance can be quite surprising. Before they’re cut and shaped, diamonds have unique characteristics worth exploring.

Octahedral crystal shape

15 brown raw diamonds showing different diamond crystal shapes
Diamonds provided by RadheGemsIN

Diamonds typically form in a shape called an octahedron, which looks like two pyramids stuck together at the base. If you’re wondering how to find diamonds, recognizing this unique shape can be a big help! 

Sometimes, diamonds might also appear in shapes like cubes or dodecahedrons. These forms are all part of the same crystal family.

So, next time you’re out exploring, keep an eye out for rocks in these neat shapes. They might just lead you to a diamond!

Greasy luster

raw white diamond crystal
Diamond provided by MinimalCarbonStore

When talking about what a raw diamond looks like on the outside, we typically describe its luster as greasy. It’s different from the luster of a cut diamond, which is adamantine.

Raw diamonds have a kind of glow that’s like looking at a surface with an oily sheen. This greasy appearance can help diamond seekers spot them among other stones.

Bumpy surface

two raw blue diamonds with a bumpy outer surface
Diamond provided by RadheGemsIN

When they’re still raw and haven’t been polished or cut, diamonds can have a bumpy surface. This texture is one of the clues for finding diamonds out in nature.

Unlike the smooth gems you might see in jewelry stores, raw diamonds can feel a bit like a grippy skateboard tape. These bumps are natural and tell a story of the diamond’s journey from deep inside the Earth.

So, if you ever come across a stone with a unique, bumpy feel, take a closer look. You just might be holding a diamond in your hand!

What diamonds look like on the inside

Diamonds are not just sparkly gems; they have a fascinating inner world! When you peek inside, each diamond tells its own unique story. 

Inclusions

round cut colorless diamonds with visible inclusions
Diamond provided by BeautifuljewelsStore

What a diamond looks like on the inside can be just as interesting as the outside. Natural diamonds often have inclusions, which are small imperfections or “birthmarks.”

Inclusions can be crystals of different materials, maybe another diamond crystal, or tiny cracks. While some might see them as flaws, they actually give each diamond its own unique story.

Just like how every person has a unique fingerprint, every diamond has its own unique set of inclusions.

Graining

emerald cut yellow diamond
Diamond provided by BeautifuljewelsStore

One fascinating feature of diamonds is their graining. When it comes to diamond identification, graining can be a helpful clue.

Graining is like the internal “growth lines” of a diamond, similar to how trees have rings that show their age. These grain lines can be straight, wavy, or even interwoven, depending on how the diamond formed.

It doesn’t usually affect the beauty of the diamond, but it tells a story of the diamond’s journey from deep within the Earth.

Feathers

translucent brown uncut diamond
Diamond provided by DroomDiamond

In the diamond world, feathers are small cracks or fractures. They can look like wispy lines or tiny white areas inside the stone.

Some feathers are super tiny and can’t be seen without a special magnifying glass, while others are more noticeable. It’s like each diamond has its own unique set of patterns and stories.

So, the next time you look at a diamond, remember: those feathers are part of what makes it special!

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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