Written By Justin Zzyzx and Brandy Naugle for FakeMinerals.com
Investigative Reporting by Yinan Wang
Arkansas is known for something very unique.
The ONLY public access diamond mine in the entire world. For a small fee, anyone can go to the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro Arkansas and search for diamonds in the giant open dirt field.
While it is certainly no easy task to unearth a diamond here, amazing finds have been reported and tracked through time. The average diamond found at the “Crater” is far less than a carat, most weighing in at under 10 points (that’s 1/10th of a carat) (TINY!). Finding a nice big fat stone over a carat is something people work for years and don’t find!
Diamonds at the Crater come in several shades, 70% of them being white, with brown coming in second and yellow is a close third.
The state park registers all of the diamonds that people find at the park, if they are willing to register it. Some don’t because they want to keep it private, while many want the nifty card that you get when you register your diamond with the park. They even keep track of everyone’s finds on their website, www.craterofdiamondsstatepark.com.
Diamonds from Arkansas are also special because of a very important fact. They are worth a great deal more than similar diamonds from commercial mines around the world. They are so special and unique, plus they tend to be among the hardest diamonds known to man. They have a unique form and often look like sleek drops of glass, rather than crude cubes and rough diamonds of so many African locations. So, an Arkansas diamond is going to be one of the most expensive diamonds you can get, but rightfully so!
Now that you know all about the important facts about diamonds from the “Crater of Diamonds State Park”, learn about how someone almost came up with a perfect scam.
You could not take any diamond into the park and just plant it on the ground. Or at least no one thought you could because a diamond from Africa, Brazil, Russia, et al. would not produce diamonds that look like the ones from Arkansas. But someone found a source that could pass for Arkansas diamonds. A source in India that imports diamonds from the Panna Mines.
Photos of diamond lots sent to Eric to examine prior to purchase.
India produces hundreds of thousands more diamonds than the US, therefore, the diamonds from India are much cheaper than their American counterparts. A man named Eric Blake (www.arkansasdiamondjewelry.com) figured out he could make some money by purchasing diamonds from India then take them into the park and “find” them.
A brown diamond from India costs around $100 per carat, while a similar diamond from Arkansas costs $1000 -$2000 per carat. A profit of more than 1000%.
In late October of 2007, Eric Blake and his family took a trip to the “Crater” and found an amazing amount of LARGE BROWN DIAMONDS!
It was no coincidence that he also placed a rush order for an assortment of Indian diamonds to be delivered no later than October 18th.
On 10/6/07 Eric sent the following message from his girlfriend (and accomplice) Susan Gabrielson’s email account.
Hello (Name Withheld),I may have deleted your last mail by accident. As I have not gotten a response from you. We are eagerly awaiting your mail. The stones must be received no later than October 18, 2007. Anything you can do to expedite this shipment would be greatly appreciated.
Over the span of 5 days, Eric and his three assistants “found” over 16.5 carats of diamonds at the park, including a whopping 3.92 carat stone! What great luck, eh? Out of all of the recorded finds they had that week, 60% of them were brown! What an interesting thing, because usually only around 20% of the finds are brown in color.
Screen captures of from the park diamond find archive for Eric Blake, Susan Gabrielson, Sarah Gabrielson, & Sayde Gabrielson
Eric also owns a website called ArkansasDiamondJewelry.com which sells diamonds and jewelry, reported to come from the “Crater” complete with certificate of authenticity issued by the Arkansas State Park. However, some of the diamonds on the site are proven to be Indian in origin. FakeMinerals.com received paperwork which shows Eric Blake importing diamonds from India in early October.
UPS Tracking code, screen captured from UPS.com
If that isn’t damning enough, photos taken by the salesperson in India which clearly match up with diamonds for sale on ArkansasDiamondJewelry.com
In addition, Eric sells “Arkansas Diamonds” on eBay (sayde1garcia) and has successfully sold some of his Indian diamonds to mineral dealers here in America as originating from Arkansas.
Private sources have indicated that they have been onto Mr. Blake for a few months now, but they have lacked the evidence to be sure that he was “salting” the diamond field.
One regular digger at the “Crater” met Mr. Blake in 2006 when he first tried out his scam. At that time he only registered a few diamonds. Mr. Blake offered to let the regular digger search his hole when he was done. It wasn’t much surprise that the regular didn’t find anything else in that hole. In 2007 Mr. Blake and his family were digging in an area that is known to be the dumping ground for gravel that was trucked in 1924 to put in a road. This gravel is completely free from diamonds as it is not from the diamond field, however they found a remarkable 32 diamonds! Mr. Blake then offered the hole to another family when they were leaving and while the family moved quite a bit of material, no more diamonds were forthcoming.
Mr. Blake. The diggers at the “Crater of Diamonds State Park” would like you to know that you are persona non grata.
With this information MOST, IF NOT ALL of the Diamonds sold by Mr. Blake are not from Arkansas and should be labeled as coming from the Panna Mine in India.
It is amazing that someone could think they would get away with trying to scam these finds, especially since there are dozens of people who stare, poke and prod at the numbers of the finds on the Crater’s website. 32 diamonds is an impossible number of diamonds to be found by two adults and two children during 5 days at the park.
Additionaly, As recently as January 2008, Eric has sent emails trying to “match” certain stones. And while there is nothing wrong with that in itself, in this context, it is more than a little suspicious.
I leave you with this parting thought… What is the Travel Channel’s most promoted collecting location on their “Best Places to find Cash and Treasures” series? Yep, you guessed it! Crater of Diamonds State Park! Could this be the beginning of the inevitable backlash associated with promoting this “get rich quick” mentality to mineral collecting? I guess only time will tell.
Fake Minerals and Scams are all around us. If you catch wind of something fishy, send to us here at Justin@the-vug.com
Thanks again to Hal Guyot (GeoSleuth@gmail.com) for all your hard work on this story!
Special Extra Thanks goes out to the HONEST INDIAN DEALER, Malay Hirani of Soni Tools (www.sonitools.com) for being willing to help stop fraud!
UPDATE!: Just google Eric Blake’s name on Google and you will find AP News report after AP News report about his 3.92 carat stone find in October of 2007. Not only did he scam the public, the state park, but he also scamed the media. What a guy!
UPDATE!: As soon as Eric heard about this website, he removed the photos that match up above and got rid of his “Dealer Lot” section, well, those diamonds matched up perfectly!
UPDATE!: There is a ton of additional extra evidence and it has all been turned into the authorities. We do not know if anyone will ever see that this out to justice, but you can be sure that far and wide, people know what to look out for and a scammer has been chased out!
And here is a picture found on Google of Eric Blake holding his “famous find”.
FINAL UPDATE: This story is now ancient history, newspaper articles were written, TV and Radio interviews were given, National Geographic even wrote about the scam.