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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Diamonds All Around You

( Orginally published 1962 )



A Farmer's children kept finding pretty pebbles in the yard - pebbles which they thought were pretty playthings. Their mother gave one of them to a neighbor, who sold the pebble for several pounds-and the word was out. Diamonds had been discovered in South Africa!

Many years later, in faraway Brazil, two farmers walked along the path of a dry river bed. A stone glinted in the sunlight and they passed it by. Later, his curiosity aroused, one of them returned. The stone turned out to be the seven-hundred-and-twenty-six-anda-half-carat Vargas diamond.

Fabulous finds, but no one seems to think it so strange, because the finds were made in other countries. Yet here in the United States, diamonds have been found in the past-and will be again if you know where to look for them.

In 1906 a farmer in Arkansas was doing his plowing-and uncovered a two-and-three-quarter-carat diamond. This was the beginning of the Arkansas diamond field.

Today our Arkansas field is limited in output-but while it was in full operation more than fifty thousand diamonds were taken out, the largest of them weighing forty carats. Today, however, you can still find diamonds in Arkansas, because there is a place called the "Crater of Diamonds" near Murfreesboro which is open to the public and where anyone can hunt for diamonds.

Only a few years ago a housewife on vacation went to the Crater of Diamonds and found a fifteen-and-one-half-carat diamond. It was named the "Star of Arkansas." A couple of years later a man and his wife found a three-carat diamond worth over two thousand dollars. And there are more diamonds in the Crater of Diamondswaiting for you to find them. If they are less than five carats you get to keep them, but if they are over five you must give a percentage to the people who own the property. Still, this is treasure. Who would not be willing to share a percentage of a ten- or twelvecarat diamond-just for the right to look for it!

But there are other places right here in the United States where you can find diamonds. In 1928, in the town of Peterstown, West Virginia, a father and son set up a game of horseshoes in a vacant lot. It was a game of horseshoes which they will never forget-for during the course of that game they accidentally discovered the "Punch Jones," a thirty-four-carat diamond.

The West Virginia diamond is a little different from the Arkansas diamond. For this is a glacier diamond, swept downwards thousands of years ago by the onslaught of the glaciers, the big ice that swept everything before it-including diamonds.

There are many states wherein glacier diamonds have been found, but the point, of course, is that the glaciers swept them away from some particular place-a mother lode, probably somewhere in Canada.

This mother lode has never been found, and its extent is anyone's guess. Perhaps the big ice swept all the diamonds before it-or, again, we may have another Kimberley in our northern back yard. We never will know, until some treasure hunter finds it.

Another Kimberley sounds fantastic, yet by tracing the paths of the glaciers and by knowing that glacier diamonds have been found in those paths, we know that there is at least a possibility of a rich and fabulous mother lode somewhere in Canada, probably in the Hudson Bay region.

Glacier diamonds have been found in many states, particularly of course in the Great Lakes states, but even in West Virginia it is wise to watch for them. You might find another Punch Jones!

Glacier diamonds, however, are not the only diamonds to watch for. In California alone over two hundred diamonds have been "accidentally" found by men who were gold mining. They turned up during ordinary gold panning operations.

Diamonds have been found from one end of the United. States to the other-in a country where most people might not even glance twice at the shiny pebble they saw while they were on their Sunday picnic or summer vacation. But remember the two Brazilian farmers who passed by the Vargas diamond. Only one of them was curious enough to go back and look it over again.

A diamond of gem quality can be worth $1,000 a carat, but the lesser-quality diamond, the industrial diamond, is so badly needed by industry that, if you could find them a good source of industrial diamonds, they would welcome you with open arms.

It takes the industrial diamond to successfully operate many modern production plants. Today, our need for the home production of industrial diamonds has become so acute that the United States Bureau of Mines has begun a project to prospect for them.

More romantic than industrial diamonds, of course, is the treasure hunter's hope of finding a magnificent, large, gem stonebut first he must be able to recognize one if he should find it. A diamond in the rough does not look like the lovely, sparkling gem that we see in a jeweler's window.

True, it is as hard; but it is not as pretty. It has a glassy or frosty appearance, and it sometimes feels greasy to the fingers as you rub it, and many times it looks just like certain types of quartz. Yet, while both quartz and diamond will scratch glass, the diamond will scratch the quartz.

Diamonds, to be gem stones, should be free of all blemishes or flaws. They are clear stones, yet a deeply colored stone may become a stone of great value-like the Blue Hope diamond.

When you are looking for diamonds, do not throw away frosted or glassy looking stones because of their odd color. Diamonds come in all colors. They can be yellow or green, blue or pink, brown or red, gray or black.

Any color-and almost anywhere. Watch for them in the dirt, imbedded in rocks, in sand, in the gravel of dried-up river beds, and in the rippling brooks. Diamonds have been found in many such California streams leading down from the Sierra Nevada. They have been found in the Great Lakes region, on the Pacific coast, and in the Atlantic-Piedmont region.