Visitor From Alabama Finds 5.75-Carat White Diamond at Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park

Article follows the photos:
April 28, 2009

For Immediate Release

Murfreesboro -- This week’s vacation had started off on a disappointing note for Mike Burns of Arab, Alabama, who planned to devote his week off as a delivery driver from work to enjoying his new hobby of prospecting and treasure hunting. After driving out to Colorado to prospect at a particular site there, he learned that the owner wouldn’t be available to give him access to the property until this Wednesday. So, Burns headed home and decided he’d prospect, instead, at Arkansas’s diamond site, the Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro. He’d visited the park once before late last summer.

“A week’s vacation finally paid off,” said Burns. He noted that it took him 2,300 miles to get to the Crater of Diamonds from Alabama, but “I made the right choice.” A vacation that had begun in disappointment ended with his 5.75-carat white diamond find today at approximately 10:15 a.m. He found the diamond on the surface of the park’s 37 ½-acre diamond search area, a plowed field that is the eroded surface of the eighth largest, diamond-bearing deposit in the world in surface area.

According to Burns, “My eyes caught the diamond before the light did.” His first words were, “Oh, my, that looks like a diamond!” He was searching in the West Drain of the search area behind Canary Hill and near the woods. Burns put the diamond in a glass vial and walked to the park visitor center to have it identified by the park staff.

Burns has named his gem the Arabian Knight Diamond after his hometown high school football team in Arab. He noted that his wife, who did not accompany him on his travels this week, reminded him three weeks ago that their 20th wedding anniversary was coming up in late May and that she wanted a diamond. Burns had joked to her, “Well, you better go over to Arkansas to the Crater of Diamonds. I hear they find big ones there, so start digging.”

With a smile, Burns noted today that since their wedding anniversary was also his birthday, perhaps his wife would let him keep the diamond. Burns’ 5.75-carat diamond is the 17th largest gem of the 28,000 found by park visitors since the Crater of Diamonds became an Arkansas state park in 1972. It the largest diamond find since September 2006 when a couple from Point, Texas, found a 6.35-carat, dark brown diamond at the park. Burns’ gem is the 346th diamond found by visitors at the park so far this year.

According to Park Interpreter Margi Jenks, “The diamond is clear, but has inclusions. It’s a somewhat triangular, cushion shape and flat.”

Park Superintendent Tom Stolarz noted that the park policy is finder-keepers. “What park visitors find in the diamond search area is theirs to keep.” Crater of Diamonds State Park is the world’s only diamond-producing site open to the public. Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow. The three most common colors found at the park are white, brown and yellow, in that order.

The 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.

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. 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. Other large notable finds from the Crater include the Star of Murfreesboro (34.25 carats) and the Star of Arkansas (15.33 carats).

The largest diamond of the 28,000 discovered by park visitors since the Crater became an Arkansas state park in 1972 was the 16.37-carat Amarillo Starlight. W. W. Johnson of Amarillo, Texas, found this spectacular gem-quality, white diamond in 1975.

In June 1981, the 8.82-carat Star of Shreveport was added to the growing list of large valuable stones found at the Crater.

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 nearby 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 permanent display in a special exhibit in the Crater of Diamonds State Park visitor center.

Another gem from the Crater, the flawless 4.25-carat Kahn Canary diamond, discovered at the park in 1977, has been on exhibit at many cities around the U.S. and overseas. The uncut, triangular-shape diamond 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, and wore it in a special, Arkansas-inspired ring setting designed by Henry Dunay of New York. Mrs. Clinton chose to wear the gem as a special way to represent Arkansas’s diamond site at the galas celebrating both of Bill Clinton’s presidential inaugurals.

Other semi-precious gems and minerals found at the Crater of Diamonds 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.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is located two miles southeast of 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: Tom Stolarz, park superintendent, Crater of Diamonds State Park, 209 State Park Road, Murfreesboro, Arkansas 71958. Phone: 870-285-3113. E-mail: tom.stolarz@arkansas.gov. Or visit craterofdiamondsstatepark.com.

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