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January-February 2014

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Media Reviews

How to Find Genuine Diamonds in Arkansas hosted by Glenn W. Worthington. Available through Mid-America Prospecting, PO Box 1063, Murfreesboro, AR 71958. 84-minute DVD; 2008; $19 + $5 shipping and handling.

This interesting DVD is designed to introduce one to the location and history of Arkansas' Crater of Diamonds State Park and the diamond hunting techniques used by the thousands of visitors who flock there each year. It is hosted by Glenn W. Worthington who, during the past several decades, has established himself as the resident expert on Arkansas diamonds and how to find them.

The DVD is loosely divided into three parts. The first traces the history of Arkansas diamonds from the discovery of the first two stones on the Huddleston farm in 1906 through the thirteen-year effort of the Arkansas Diamond Corporation to mine the site, to a group effort by three mining companies to bulk sample and carefully evaluate the deposit in the 1990s, and finally to the establishment of the current state park operation. The narrative is well done and illustrated with numerous historical photographs.

The second part consists of a tour through the park itself during which guide Worthington describes old diamond processing equipment and points out the discovery sites of some of the deposit's more famous diamonds. The remains of some equipment from the old Arkansas Diamond Corporation plant and a related description of the effective use of grease tables are especially interesting. An important part of this segment is the introduction to a display of 210 uncut Arkansas diamonds in the park's visitor center.

The third segment walks the viewer through the three fundamental techniques used by park visitors to search for diamonds. The first is simply the careful examination of surface materials with or without the use of scraping instruments, such as rakes. The second is dry screening or sieving, and the third is wet screening, a general technique familiar to all those who have visited one of the many North Carolina ruby and related pay-for-play gem mines. Particularly enlightening is a demonstration of wet washing.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the DVD is the thread of continuity supplied by the periodic insertion of accounts of significant diamond finds, many of which were quite serendipitous. These include the discovery of the site's largest diamond, the Uncle Sam (40.23 carats), found stuck in a trammel hole by a plant worker, to diamonds found by children and discovered in their bags of treasured, but otherwise worthless, pebbles by park personnel who offer an identification service to all visitors. One was even found in a baby's mouth when the parents returned from their unsuccessful hunt. There is much lore here, and these anecdotal tales move what could have been an overly long production forward at a nice pace.

The DVD closes with a brief general discussion of diamond geology, a geography lesson for those unfamiliar with Arkansas, and a reminder that motor-driven equipment, such as trackhoes, cannot be brought onto the park site by visitors for use in the movement or processing of diamond-bearing earth materials. Small pieces of equipment, such as wheelbarrows and shovels, can be rented from the park office, and for kids not willing to spend hours staring down at the ground, we learn that there are peripheral attractions, such as a water park.

This is a worthwhile DVD, particularly for those contemplating a visit to the Crater of Diamonds State Park. My only complaint is that the audio was a little inconsistent and scratchy on my copy of the DVD. Otherwise, the video was generally well edited, completely in focus, and easy to watch. It is highly recommended.

Diamonds, 3rd edition, by Marijan Dundek. Nobel Gems Publications. 2009; 96 pages; £14.95 plus shipping and handling (softbound) (also available in e-book format).

This fact-filled book, the first edition of which was published in 1999, presents a clear and concise survey written for those needing a quick reference guide to most all things diamond-related. It leans heavily on the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) with regard to diamond quality and grading. It is beautifully illustrated with exceptional photographs of notable cut diamonds, colored and other quality reference stones, and sequential crafting of gems cut from one of the world's great diamonds, the Lesotho Promise.

The book is divided into three chapters, preceded by a table of contents, a brief preface, and an acknowledgments section. Chapter 1 begins with a short history of diamonds followed by a synopsis of the diamond industry. This section contains a description of the Kimberley Process Certification scheme. The following sections briefly describe diamond genesis, diamond-producing countries, and major diamond-cutting centers. A more detailed section dealing with diamond quality is next, broken down into color, clarity, cut, stone shapes, and carat discussions. The chapter closes with examples of diamond-grading reports and a review of diamond fluorescence.

Chapter 2 presents details related to "natural fancy color diamonds." The brief introductory section is followed by a discussion of diamond color that is subdivided into causes of coloration, fancy color diamond grading, treated and synthetic color diamonds, and a sample of a GIA natural fancy color diamond grading report. Short sections covering cut and shape, carat weight, and primary hues of natural fancy color diamonds follow. Interestingly, the major diamond colors are discussed individually and include proposed sources of each color, some of which are related to deformation and stored stress rather than trace chemistry, radiation, and other, more familiar causes.

Chapter 3 deals almost entirely with the Lesotho Promise, a magnificent white gem diamond found in the Letseng mine, Lesotho, in August 2006. This stone, the fifteenth-largest diamond ever found, weighed 603 carats and was unusually complicated from the cutter's standpoint. The stone was purchased at auction by Graff Diamonds and ultimately cut into four major and twenty-two smaller gems using software, tools, and cutting machines developed especially for this particular stone. The finished stones range in weight from 0.52 to 76.41 carats. The largest four are pear-shaped, heart-shaped, a round brilliant, and emerald-cut stones. The remainder are all round brilliants. The entire group of stones was fashioned into a single necklace, clearly one of the world's finest pieces of modern diamond jewelry. Incredibly, even after intense computer analysis to select stone orientations, sizes, and shapes, 379.65 carats (63 percent) could not be used or were lost in the cutting process.

The book closes with a listing of international organizations and gem trade laboratories that deal heavily in the diamond industry. The last page is a beautiful presentation of the "Langerman Selection" of cut colored diamonds arranged in rows that show progressive development of major color variations.

Diamonds is not a comprehensive reference work but rather a book that could be the first place to look for quick answers to simple questions related to diamonds. It is very well illustrated with clear, sharp photographs and faithful color representation. It is highly recommended for those wishing a quick overview of diamonds, particularly those who find themselves under pressure from whatever corner for a new jewelry purchase.

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