By: 
Waymon Cox
 Updated: 
James Armstead and his sister Willie Trice at Crater of Diamonds State Park
James Armstead and his sister Willie Trice at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Greetings from Crater of Diamonds State Park! While our staff helps people prepare for diamond searching every day, a visitor’s advice can provide a fresh perspective. I recently spoke with James Armstead and his sister Willie Trice, of Kansas City, Mo., about their visit to Crater of Diamonds, their experiences here, and the guidance they would give other first-time park guests.

Armstead, an Arkansas native originally from Parkdale, learned about Crater of Diamonds State Park while visiting nearby Hot Springs a few years ago.

“The first time I visited Hot Springs, they had brochures from the park. I read about the diamond mine, the original finder [John Huddleston], and how he found the first diamonds. It was exciting! This year I said, ‘Before the summer’s over, I want to come here.’”

Trice told her brother that she wanted to visit too, so they made plans to visit together. The siblings arrived at Crater of Diamonds on the morning of Wednesday, August 4. The weather was sunny and hot, with a high temperature near 90 degrees. To prepare for the hot weather, the pair wore wide-brimmed hats and brought a small cooler with water and Gatorade.

For two mornings Armstead and Trice searched for diamonds, leaving early each afternoon. To make the most of their visit, they rented a basic kit from the park, containing a bucket, shovel, and screen set. Armstead said that learning how to search made a difference in their experience.

James Armstead and his sister Willie Trice at Crater of Diamonds State Park

“Listening to the diamond mining demonstration and video about how to find diamonds, what they look like, and how to use the tools—if we were close to my hometown, I would probably be out here at least a couple hours a day!”

Armstead also brought a pair of knee pads to crawl on the ground and search for diamonds. “We kind of did both wet and dry [sifting]. We looked on the surface, too. Dry dirt is easier to sift, but the wet dirt is a lot easier to dig in. You can’t do it without a shovel!”

Armstead and Trice also recommended other tools to make diamond searching easier. Trice suggested, “A little seat. Those little fold-out seats, to sit on in the field.” Armstead noted, “I wish I had me a little pickaxe. It could break up the dirt a lot finer, and then you could use the shovel to scoop it up.”

When asked what they would tell others planning to visit, Armstead said, “Wear kneepads, and wear comfortable shoes, like hiking shoes. If you want to wear short pants, that’s up to you. I prefer to have long pants for crawling around on the ground. You also need something like a little wagon to pull your stuff. Make sure to have Gatorade and water to hydrate.” Trice added, “If you burn easily in the sun, bring long sleeves and put on a hat. That’ll protect you and keep you from burning.”

Like most people, Armstead and Trice hoped to find a diamond during their visit. However, Armstead pointed out that being at the park was a special experience. “Just to be in the place, just to see it, just to experience it … it’s unique and an awesome sight!”

Though they left the park without a diamond, the brother and sister carried home memories of their unforgettable adventure in the outdoors and an Arkansas state park!

Search area last plowed: July 1, 2021

Most recent significant rainfall: July 26, 2021

Diamond finds for the week of August 1, 2021 (100 points = 1 carat):

August 3 – Scott Kreykes, De Queen, AR, 1 pt. white, 7 pt. brown

August 4 – James Cawthern, Exeter, PA, 3 pt. white

August 5 – Adam Hardin, Murfreesboro, AR, 35 pt. white; Michael Messick, Astoria, OR, 6 pt. white

August 6 – Sally Whitaker, Montgomery, TX, 2 pt. white; Von Tersch Family, Chesapeake, VA, 31 pt. yellow; Troy Savage, Antlers, OK, 8 pt. white