Susie Clark of Evening Shade (Sharp County), Arkansas, first visited the Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas’s diamond site, 33 years ago with her mother and grandmother from Germany. A return visit with her husband over the past week was highlighted on Clark’s last day of diamond hunting yesterday (Thursday, April 23) by a beautiful, 3.69-carat white diamond that she found near the South Washing Pavilion of the park’s 37 ½-acre search field. According to Clark, she found the gem on the surface of the field yesterday afternoon after she asked God, “Are you going to bless me and let me find a diamond today?” Shortly after her prayer, Clark saw the diamond sticking out of a furrow ridge in the plowed dirt. She knew it was a diamond, and said to herself, “This is a diamond. And it’s a big one!” Because Clark found the diamond after saying that prayer on her last day of searching at the park, she named her teardrop-shaped gem the Hallelujah Diamond. At this time, she plans to keep her gem.
According to Park Interpreter Waymon Cox, the large diamond is about the size of pinto bean. “The gem is frosted white with a pearlescent, metallic shine. This is the largest diamond found so far this year. And it’s the largest one found since April 16, 2014, when a 6.19-carat white diamond, named the Limitless Diamond, was found at the park,” he said. Cox continued, “Mrs. Clark’s diamond is the 122nd diamond found at the park this year.”
Cox noted that the park has experienced a lot of rain over the past couple of weeks, plus the park maintenance staff plowed the search field—the eroded surface of an ancient, diamond-bearing deposit—earlier this week. “This regular endeavor loosens the diamond-bearing soil which, along with rain erosion, brings more diamonds to the surface and helps park visitors’ chances of finding them. With all the rain we’ve been seeing, along with this week’s plowing, there’s a good chance more diamonds will be found on the surface in the days to come.” He stressed that conditions on the search field are perfect right now for finding diamonds on the surface of the field. “Diamonds are a bit heavy for their size, and they lack static electricity, so rainfall slides the dirt off diamonds that are on the surface of the search area leaving them exposed. And when the sun comes out, they’ll sparkle and be noticed.”
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 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.
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 U.S. 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. 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. (Pictures and famous diamond finds: http://www.craterofdiamondsstatepark.com/history/famous-finds.aspx)
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 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 of Diamonds is the flawless 4.25-carat Kahn Canary diamond that was discovered 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. 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.
Over 40 different rocks and minerals are unearthed at the Crater making it a rockhound’s delight. In addition to diamonds, semi-precious gems and minerals, including amethyst, garnet, peridot, jasper, agate, calcite, barite, and quartz, are found in the park’s search area.
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, Crater of Diamonds State Park, 209 State Park Road, Murfreesboro, AR 71958; phone: 870-285-3113; email: Waymon.Cox@Arkansas.gov; or visit www.CraterofDiamondsStatePark.com.