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Watch for these diamond lookalikes

Improve your chances of finding a diamond

by Waymon Cox

Greetings from Crater of Diamonds State Park! While most visitors hope to find a diamond at the Crater, other minerals may look similar to the untrained eye. By knowing the differences, you can increase your chances of having a fun and successful diamond hunt!

Calcite is a white-colored crystal that usually appears flat and blocky.

Calcite is one mineral that is sometimes mistaken for a diamond. It is a white-colored crystal that usually appears flat and blocky and is somewhat heavy for its size. It is often found near other heavy rocks and minerals, and sometimes diamonds. A nice-sized calcite crystal can be exciting to find!

While calcite may indicate good areas to search for diamonds, it is much softer than diamonds. The best way to test the hardness of minerals at the park is to use a pocket knife, fingernail file, or other steel tool for a scratch test. Diamond is the hardest known natural mineral, while calcite and other softer crystals scratch easily with steel.

Mica is another mineral that visitors often mistake for diamond. Diamonds from the Crater have a brilliant luster, much like mica. Some visitors painstakingly collect tiny mica flakes, thinking they have found “diamond dust."

Mica is flat and only shines in one direction, like glitter.

To tell the difference between mica and diamond, look at the overall shape. Mica is flat and only shines in one direction, like glitter. Diamonds are usually rounded and sparkle from many directions. When surface searching for diamonds, ignore the glittery flecks and watch for something that shines from different angles. Fortunately, most mica washes out of the screens during wet sifting and won’t be found near diamonds.

Quartz crystal is probably most-mistaken for diamond by park visitors. Quartz from the Crater is usually small and harder than steel, so a preliminary scratch test with a will be inconclusive. Quartz is also shiny, and park visitors will often collect a few nice pieces in hopes that at least one is a diamond.

Quartz is angular and will shine like broken glass.

To tell the difference between quartz and diamond, take a closer look at the facets and luster. Diamonds from the Crater were partially melted during the volcanic eruption that brought them to the surface of Southwest Arkansas. An unbroken diamond from the park typically has smooth, curved facets, whereas quartz is pointed and angular. A diamond’s rounded surface will have a sheen similar to metal, while quartz will shine like a piece of broken glass.

If you’re still curious about your finds, have them checked at the Diamond Discovery Center. Our staff are trained to identify the many rocks and minerals found here and will help you to recognize a diamond in the rough. During your next visit, put your skills to the test and see if you can spot the differences between a diamond and these other “lookalikes!”

Most recent significant precipitation: August 25, 2016

Diamond finds for the week of August 14, 2016 (100 points = 1 carat):

August 14 – Lola Quinn, Albuquerque, NM, 24 pt. white

August 17 – Mark Pinto & Terry Blackmon, Springfield, MO, 11 pt. white

August 18 – Adam Hardin, Murfreesboro, AR, 31 pt. white, 12 pt. white

August 19 – Brett Bigbee, Nashville, TN, 14 pt. white

Visit our Recent Finds page for more diamond finds!