BUCKHANNON - Diamonds aren't the first gem that usually comes to mind when thinking about prospecting in West Virginia, but one soon-to-be retired prospector living on the border of Randolph County near both Barbour and Upshur counties said he has traveled through Virginia and the Mountain State and found such rare gems.
Prospector Ronald Bone said streams and rivers can carry diamonds further inland, making it possible to prospect for diamonds in these areas.
He published the book "Diamond Prospecting in Virginia and West Virginia," as a way to share his knowledge and secrets with anyone who might be interested in picking up on the hobby he soon will have to retire from. For health-related reasons Bone said he cannot search for diamonds like he did in the past.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
Prospector Ronald Bone displays a book he has written about finding diamonds in Virginia and West Virginia.
"It's kind of fun, especially when you find a little one," Bone said about prospecting.
Even though he knows he will not be able to keep up with his hobby for much longer, Bone said he has recently gone prospecting and still loves the search for diamonds. Although he does most of his prospecting in Virginia, Bone said he has found diamonds in West Virginia, and promised there are plenty of places where people could look for them.
"I found two little small ones on the Eastern Mountain, which is the same as Peter's Mountain," he said.
Bone said diamonds can be found in a special sandstone called Tuscarora Sandstone, or TS for short. In the book, Bone publishes his research and knowledge about diamonds and prospecting, which includes the science behind the formation of diamonds.
He also tells readers where they can go to prospect for diamonds - directions included, plus how big the diamonds must be to have value, and what materials are needed to prospect on a budget.
Bone said he kept up with the search for diamonds fueled by the idea that the next one he found could be bigger than the last one.
"I wish I could still go prospecting, but I'm just not steady enough," Bone said, "but life's life. You just have to take it as it comes."
Bone said his book can be found on sale at many colleges in West Virginia.
"This country has single-mindedly focused on gold," Bone wrote in his book. "Conversely, diamond prospecting could become a craze if people realized how profitable it could be."
According to Bone's book, he was visiting with a recovering friend in 1985 at a hospital in South Carolina. While there, Bone visited the local library for books about geology and learned about the story of the Punch Jones Diamond in Peterstown. Bone said he had heard of the diamond once before.
"I always was, even as a kid, interested in woods and rocks and things," Bone said, "but it was in my grandmother's library that I found out about the Punch Jones Diamond. It made an impression."
The story caught his interest because he was originally from Bluefield, near Peterstown where the diamond was found, according to his book.
As he and his friend traveled to Buckhannon, Bone continued to conduct research into the Punch Jones Diamond, and he collected information about the diamond from the local libraries, including West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Bone said he believes the Punch Jones Diamond is possibly one of the largest diamonds, if not the largest diamond, that has been found in the United States.