Visitors to Arkansas’ Crater of Diamonds got a crash course in all things sparkly from master diamond cutter Mike Botha.
Along with gemmologist Loyd Stanley of Stanley Jeweller in North Little Rock, Botha hosted a group tour of the park. Participants hunted for diamonds in the park’s search area, a 15-ha (37.5-acre) plowed field that is the eroded surface of the eighth-largest diamond-bearing deposit in the world. In addition, visitors learned about fine diamonds, diamond crystallography, and cutting and polishing from Botha, who is president of Embee Diamond Technologies in Prince Albert, Sask.
Crater of Diamonds is the world’s only diamond-producing site open to the public. In addition to diamonds, semi-precious gems and minerals are found in the park’s search area, including amethyst, garnet, peridot, jasper, agate, calcite, barite, and quartz. Visitors are allowed to keep all the stones they find.
With four decades’ experience, Botha got his start in South Africa, before going to Russia and then settling in Canada. He worked as the occupational certification officer for the diamond industry in the Northwest Territories under the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, as well as the technical consultant for the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment for their government diamond certification program. Botha also led the diamond training program at Aurora College in Yellowknife.
In 2008, he relocated to Prince Albert on the promise of its diamond mining future and founded Embee Diamond Technologies.