FLORIDA MAN FINDS 1.95 CT. BROWN DIAMOND
AT CRATER OF DIAMONDS STATE PARK
Diamond is largest brown gem found in more than two years
The second-largest diamond found so far this year at Crater of Diamonds State Park was certified on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 28. The 1.95-carat dark brown gem is about the size of an English pea, with a round shape and a pitted surface.
40-year-old Doug Lay, a certified nursing assistant from Hernando, Florida, discovered the coffee-colored gem around 1 p.m. while wet sifting in the East Drain, a trench along the east side of the park’s 37 ½-acre diamond search area. Lay is no stranger to diamond finds; he has found more than 30 over the past four years, but this is his largest find yet!
Lay first learned about Crater of Diamonds State Park from his father, one of the park’s longtime diamond miners. “Dad’s been coming to the Crater of Diamonds off and on for about 17 years. Whenever I’m on vacation, I like coming to Arkansas to spend time with him, and we enjoy searching for diamonds together.”
Lay said he discovered the large diamond in the one-eighth inch screen he uses for wet sifting. Many park visitors use stacked screens of progressively-smaller sizes, usually ranging from one-quarter inch to one-sixteenth inch, to sort diamond-bearing gravel by size and make searching more productive. Lay noted that although many visitors find big diamonds in larger, quarter-inch screens, “If it’s just the right shape, a big diamond can fall through the larger screen and end up in smaller gravel.”
When Lay first saw the brown gem in his gravel, he immediately knew it was a diamond and exclaimed, “Dad, you’ve got to come look at this!” He also showed it to a few friends who were searching nearby before taking it to the park’s Diamond Discovery Center to have it weighed and certified.
Nearly 500 diamonds have been found at Crater of Diamonds State Park in 2012. According to Park Interpreter Waymon Cox, “Mr. Lay’s diamond is topped in weight this year only by the 1.99-carat yellow Stacy Diamond, which was discovered in March by a ninth grade student from Garland, Texas.” Lay’s diamond is the largest brown gem registered at the park since the 3.65-carat Kings Mountain Pinnacle Diamond was discovered on November 21, 2010.
Cox continued, “No two Crater diamonds are ever completely alike, though they all share similar characteristics. Mr. Lay’s diamond has a bright, metallic shine indicative of most Crater diamonds, but it also features an unusual pitted surface which gives it a unique appearance. Even in the rough, each Crater diamond is beautiful and interesting in its own way.”
According to Lay, the diamond’s overall shape and texture remind him of a musket ball. He has not picked a name for his diamond yet but says he plans to keep it at this time as a souvenir of the time he has enjoyed outdoors with his dad.
A total of 493 diamonds have been found at Crater of Diamonds State Park this year, 13 of which have weighed more than one carat. Other large notable finds from the Crater include the Star of Arkansas, a 15.33-carat white diamond discovered in 1975, and the Star of Shreveport, an 8.82-carat white gem unearthed in 1981. In April 2011, the 8.66-carat white Illusion Diamond became the third-largest gem registered at the Crater since it became an Arkansas State Park 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 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. The diamond is on display in a special exhibit in the Crater of Diamonds State Park visitor center.
Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow. The colors found at the Crater of Diamonds are white, brown and yellow, in that order. Other rocks and minerals found at the park include amethyst, garnet, peridot, jasper, agate, calcite, barite, and quartz, making it a rock hound's delight!
The park remains open year-round, seven days a week, closing only on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Park staff provides free identification and certification of diamonds. Park interpretive programs and exhibits explain the site’s geology and history and offer tips on recognizing diamonds in the rough. Visitors may choose to bring their own mining tools (no battery-powered or motorized equipment) or rent equipment from the Diamond Discovery Center. Other park services include a campground, picnic areas, walking trails, gift shop, museum, and a seasonal water park and restaurant. Motels, hospitals, and other conveniences are available in nearby towns.
Crater of Diamonds State Park is located on Arkansas Highway 301 in 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 the park at 870-285-3113 or by e-mail at CraterofDiamonds@arkansas.com. Or visit www.CraterofDiamondsStatePark.com.