I developed this method myself and it works great. I go down to level 10 and dig out a 10x10 hole for Tables, furnaces etc. Then on any side dig a 3x3 hole in the wall 15 blocks deep, and place a torch at the end. Then go back and dig through the walls. The reason for 15 is because diamonds spawn in one vein every chunk, which is 16x16x16, so doing the method above helps you cover A LOT of ground.
I go to y=11 and every end and the start of a chunk, I mine out the top blocks as far as I can, then mine the bottom blocks on both sides. I've gotten 34 diamonds this way (19 of the 34 were with a fortune III book I fished up though so I actually found 26 ores)
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I just took the Minecraft Noob test! Check out what I scored. #topofdalederboard