- Associated Press - Monday, January 5, 2015

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) - Visitors, bloggers and websites often have four common myths about the Crater of Diamonds State Park’s diamonds and its diamond search field, according to Margi Jenks, park interpreter.

The myths have become similar to urban legends and fish tales, which are difficult to dispel.

In an effort to shed a little light on the truth about diamonds and the park, Jenks shared some of what she has learned in her 6 years as a park interpreter.

The first myth is that diamonds feel greasy or oily, the Texarkana Gazette (http://bit.ly/1Hh1yuh ) reported.

The problem with this myth is that diamonds are solely made of carbon. Therefore, diamonds can’t produce grease or oil.

Diamonds have very little static electric charge. They’re very slick, so what people perceive as grease or oil is actually the natural slickness of the stone.

Another myth is that the park puts money values on diamonds and/or buys diamonds, which isn’t true. None of the park employees is a registered gemologist, so no one on the park staff has the training to put a monetary value diamonds, either those found at the park or those belonging to visitors. Instead, the park refers visitors to several registered gemologists in Arkansas who are familiar with the park’s diamonds and with appraising rough diamonds.

A third myth is that the park staff asks some of our regular diamond miners to save up their large diamonds to be registered when the park needs some publicity.

Jenks said she finds this myth amusing. If anyone, either regulars or other visitors, finds or thinks that they have found a large diamond, word of that diamond goes around the search area at lightning speed, she said.

Anyone who finds a large diamond is just too excited to keep it to themselves, Jenks said. Sometimes the park’s staff hears rumors of a large diamond even before it is brought in to register. Jenks said her experience suggests that the time difference between a visitor or regular finding that diamond and bringing it in to register is rarely more than a day. Also from her experience, many of the visitors who find large diamonds have no idea that they found a diamond, much less a large one. They bring the diamond up to the identification desk mixed in with all their other rocks and then are surprised when the park staff identifies it as a large diamond.

Then the celebration really begins, she said. Word passes around the park so quickly that the next thing she knows is that the park’s maintenance workers are stopping by to look at that big diamond. She said she has found over the years that the park generally gets so much publicity that it doesn’t need to make up situations.

A fourth myth is that the diamonds found out on the park’s search area are the result of the diamonds having been put out on the search field.

This myth is the thorniest and the most long-lived urban legend about the park, Jenks said; her research shows the myth started with the first diamond finds in the early 1900s. To dispel these rumors, the earliest miners worked hard and spent a lot of time to find a diamond that was embedded in the volcanic ash and lava that fills the diamond crater.

They found that embedded diamond and had solid evidence that all the found diamonds actually came from the area of what is now the park’s present-day search field.

“Today, I believe that all anyone needs to think about . is the number of diamonds, 559 so far in 2014, that are found every year out on the search field. My experience shows that our visitors find diamonds in every corner of our 37.5-acre search field. Also, over the last 40-plus years, visitors have found more than 31,000 diamonds,” Jenks said.

She said Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism Director Richard Davies’ comments at a Nashville, Arkansas, Rotary Club meeting a couple of years ago captured it best.

“He said that he couldn’t imagine going to the Legislature every year and asking for several million dollars to buy diamonds to put out on our search field,” Jenks said. “I like the fact that each diamond finder has found their own unique diamond from the volcanic crater at Arkansas’ diamond mine.”

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Information from: Texarkana Gazette, http://www.texarkanagazette.com

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