While traveling to Fayetteville, Ark., to spend some summer vacation time with family there, the Dettlaff’s of Apex, N. C., decided to drive 100 miles out of their way to have some fun at Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park. They’d experienced gem mining in the mountains of their own state, but had never visited Arkansas’s diamond site. Their first visit to the park on July 31 proved to be a lucky, and memorable, one when 12-year-old son Michael Dettlaff found a 5.16-carat, honey brown diamond after surface searching for less than 10 minutes in the park’s diamond search area. Excited when park staff confirmed that his find was a diamond, Michael was even more surprised when it weighed in at 5.16 carats. Grateful for the blessing of a diamond find, the Boy Scout named his gem the God’s Glory Diamond, according to park staff.
Park Interpreter Waymon Cox said, “It is thrilling any time a child finds a diamond here at Crater of Diamonds State Park. Michael was excited to have found his own diamond, as just about any boy would be, but he was absolutely awestruck when he realized its significance.”
Cox noted, “The gem is the 27th largest diamond found a park visitor since Arkansas’s diamond site became a state park in 1972. It is the eighth-largest brown diamond that has been certified by park staff.”
Cox continued, “This diamond is truly glorious. The pear-shaped crystal is complete, about the size of a jellybean, and it has a beautiful metallic luster. The diamond’s surface features interesting notches that give it a one-of-a-kind appearance and tell of its powerful and turbulent origins, as magma brought it to the surface from deep within the earth.” It is the 328th diamond found by a park visitor this year.
According to Cox, “No two diamonds are the same. But what also makes each Crater diamond unique is its story. Michael had only been searching for about 10 minutes when he found his diamond. In fact, Michael’s dad was renting mining equipment to begin his own diamond search when Michael showed the gem to him at the park’s Diamond Discovery Center!” He emphasized, “To Michael the entire experience may have felt like a dream, but it is certainly a dream come true, and an adventure he will remember for the rest of his life.”
Michael found the gem on the north end of the diamond search area near a sign that marks where the 15.33-carat Star of Arkansas, a white diamond that is the third largest diamond to ever come from the site, was found in 1956 when it was a privately-operated tourist attraction.
Park Interpreter Margi Jenks said, “Of the 12 diamonds weighing over one carat found at the park this year, seven of them were found by Arkansans, including the 2.10-carat Andrea’s Birthday Diamond found by a woman from Gentry, Ark. The other five diamond finds were by visitors from states as far away as Nevada and North Carolina, and as close as Missouri and Kentucky. No matter what state they came from, all the finders were delighted to own Arkansas diamonds!” She continued, “With this diamond, the current trend continues of visitors finding diamonds on the surface of the search field. Due to good rains this spring, and some especially hard rains in July, many of the recent large diamonds were found right on the surface. Diamonds are a bit heavy for their size, so a good downpour will wash the dirt away, leaving the diamond exposed.”
The search area at the Crater of Diamonds is a 37 ½-acre plowed field that is the eroded surface of the eighth largest diamond-bearing deposit in the world, in surface area. It is the world’s only diamond-producing site open to the public. The colors of diamonds found at the park are white, brown, and yellow, in that order. Other semi-precious gems and minerals found in the park’s search area include amethyst, garnet, peridot, jasper, agate, calcite, barite, and quartz. Over 40 different rocks and minerals are unearthed at the Crater making it a rock hound’s delight. On average, two diamonds are found each day at the park. The park’s policy is finder-keepers. What park visitors find is theirs to keep. The park staff provides free identification and registration of diamonds. Park interpretive programs and exhibits explain the site’s geology and history, and offer tips on recognizing diamonds in the rough.
Many factors help visitors who like to surface search for diamonds at the park. Park personnel regularly plow the diamond search area to bring fresh, eroded diamond ore to the surface. Then, erosion from heavy rains concentrates the heavy rocks and minerals, like diamonds, in the low-lying parts of the search area.
In total, over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at Arkansas’s diamond site since the first diamonds found in 1906 by John Huddleston, the farmer who at that time owned the land, long before the site became an Arkansas state park in 1972. The largest diamond ever discovered in the United States was unearthed here in 1924 during an early mining operation. Named the Uncle Sam, this white diamond with a pink cast weighed 40.23 carats. Notable diamonds found by park visitors since the state park was established at the site include the Amarillo Starlight, a 16.37-carat white diamond discovered in 1975 which ranks as the largest diamond ever found by a park visitor. The second largest find by a park visitor is the Star of Shreveport, an 8.82-carat white gem unearthed in 1981. In 2011, a visitor from Colorado found an 8.66-carat white diamond she named the Illusion Diamond, which is the third-largest gem registered here since the Crater of Diamonds State Park was established in 1972.
Another notable diamond from the Crater of Diamonds that has received much national attention is the 1.09-carat D-flawless Strawn-Wagner Diamond. Discovered in 1990 by park visitor Shirley Strawn of Murfreesboro, this white gem weighed 3.03 carats in the rough before being cut to perfection in 1997 by the renowned diamond firm Lazare Kaplan International of New York. The gem is the most perfect diamond ever certified in the laboratory of the
American Gem Society. It is on display in a special exhibit in the Crater of Diamonds State Park visitor center.
Another gem from the Crater is the flawless 4.25-carat Kahn Canary diamond that was discovered at the park in 1977. This uncut, triangular-shape gem has been on exhibit at many cities around the U.S. and overseas. It was featured in an illustrious jewelry exhibition in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1997 that included precious stones from throughout the world including the Kremlin collection, the Vatican, Cartier, and Christies. And, in late 1997, the Kahn Canary was featured in another prestigious exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York entitled “The Nature of Diamonds.” Former First Lady Hillary Clinton borrowed
the Kahn Canary from its owner, Stan Kahn of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and wore it in a special, Arkansas-inspired ring setting designed by Henry Dunay of New York as a special way to represent Arkansas’s diamond site at the galas celebrating both of Bill Clinton’s presidential inaugurals.
Crater of Diamonds State Park is on Ark. 301 at Murfreesboro. It is one of the 52 state parks administered by the State Parks Division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
For more information, contact: Waymon Cox, park interpreter, or Margi Jenks, park interpreter, Crater of Diamonds State Park, 209 State Park Road, Murfreesboro, AR 71958. Phone: 870-285-3113. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit craterofdiamondsstatepark.com.