- Historic Sites
The Great Diamond Fraud
Two slick miners fooled Tiffanys and Rothschilds until a geologist found the fake “mountain of gems”
February 1956 | Volume 7, Issue 2
In England, Baron Rothschild was watching developments. After the testimony of Tiffany and Janin, the Baron ordered his agents to get control of the gem enterprise. Ralston laughed at this move but he had Rothschild’s agent, A. Gansel, elected to the board of directors.
Meanwhile, Arnold and Slack decided they had had enough of the last company. After showing several corporation officials how to locate the diamond field, they sold out. They took for their interest $300,000 each and a percentage of the future profits.
King and Gardner still were sure that the mine was fraudulent, and they decided that they must talk to Henry Janin. Since they did not expect Janin to want to talk to them, they learned where he customarily ate dinner and waited for two days until he appeared. When he entered the restaurant, King invited Janin to eat with them.
To their astonishment, Janin opened the conversation by asking if they had heard about the Arizona diamond discovery. He was proud that his name was associated with it.
He related that the journey on horseback had followed an erratic course. Even with their blindfolds, he could tell that at times Arnold and Slack seemed lost. Perplexed, they argued about the position of the sun; Arnold left the party to climb a high peak in search of landmarks. Long after the San Franciscans were ready to give up the search, the guides removed their blindfolds and announced that they had reached their goal. The spot was at a high elevation, about 7,000 feet above sea level, and near a conical mountain.
Immediately all fatigue and irritation disappeared. The party began to scratch and dig where Arnold and Slack pointed. Within ten minutes a San Franciscan found a diamond. Then they all began to have fantastic success. Diamonds were everywhere; occasionally the hunters found a ruby, a garnet, a sapphire, or an emerald. Janin swore that twenty rough laborers could wash out a million dollars’ worth of diamonds per month indefinitely.
When Janin was spent, King and Gardner began a cross-examination. “Of course, you know exactly where the place is?” King asked.
“No. No, I don’t. I was taken a long distance on a train, about 36 hours. Then we left the railroad at some small station where there was no attendant. We were brought out of the station blindfolded and put on horses which our guides secured in some way. For two days we rode, and at last they took our blinds off when we got to this mountain. If I hadn’t gone through it all myself, I should hardly believe it.”
“Why?” Gardner asked.
“It’s a curious place, a desert with a conical but flattopped mountain rising right out of it, and on the mountain you find everything from garnets to diamonds!”
King then commented, “It’s a pity you had such had weather to ride in.”
“Why, we had splendid weather,” Janin said. “In fact, we had the sun in our laces for the entire two days during the trip; it was quite too hot.”
When the mining expert left, King explained to Gardner why he had asked Janin about the weather, Janin was fooled about the mine’s location, or he had not been entirely frank with them. It was impossible to get to Arizona by a 36-hour train trip followed by a two-day ride on horseback. Thirty-six hours on the Central Pacific would have taken the party east of Promontory Point in Utah and on into Wyoming. This checked with some information they had about rainfall. Almost all the mountainous areas in Nevada and Utah had been covered with rains and storms at the time of the trip, yet Janin had said that his trip was dry. Only southwestern Wyoming and northern Utah had escaped the deluge. The party must have been traveling generally southward since Janin made such a point about facing the sun for the entire day. Unless they had wound and twisted a great deal, two days’ trip to the south would have taken them into Utah.
King and Gardner studied their maps. They had a faint recollection ol the mountain Janin had described, but neither could place it exactly. In a few minutes, they found such a mountain on the edge of the Uinta Range east of Salt Lake City, which they had surveyed only a year before.
Thirty-six hours later, King arrived at Rawlings Springs, near what is now Green River, Wyoming. Here he hired an elderly German prospector who had some horses to carry the barometers, transits, sextants, food and books King found necessary for all his trips. King and the German cut across Red Canyon and the valley of the Green River and up into the gulches and ravines of the Uinta foothills, about 140 miles east of Salt Lake City. Finally they climbed onto the mountain of their destination, Table Rock, a plateau of 6,840 feet elevation. They arrived on November 2.
At first they found nothing. Quickly satisfied that their search was profitless. King quit scratching around in the rocks and began to took supper; the old prospector, however, still continued digging, just as the meal was ready, the German called from a spot several hundred feet from their camp site. He had discovered what |an!n and the San Francisco reports had promised: raw diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires.
The geologist and the prospector pitched camp and went to bed, but neither of them slept much. At sunrise, the prospector was again scurrying around picking up the valuable stones. Suddenly he held up a stone and shouted, “Look, Mr. King. This diamond field not only produces diamonds but cuts them also!”