New York Couple Unearths 2.68-carat Diamond at Arkansas's Crater of Diamonds State Park

Article follows the photos:
2.68-carat Diamond
2.68-carat Diamond
September 7, 2004


New York Couple Unearths 2.68-carat Diamond
At Arkansas's Crater of Diamonds State Park

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State Parks Division
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

MURFREESBORO -- Don Hing Lo and Cecilia Cheung of Peekskill, New York, decided to travel to the Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas's diamond site, after reading a guide about geological attractions, according to park officials. According to park officials, the couple's first time visit to the park today proved successful when they discovered a 2.68-carat white gem around 2:00 p.m. after only 30 minutes of prospecting in the park's diamond search area, a 37 ½-acre plowed field that is the eroded surface of the world's eighth largest diamond-bearing deposit in surface area.

Their gem is the second largest diamond that's been found at the park this year. The 2.68-carat white diamond is the color of an ice cube, and a teardrop-shape that resembles a large drop of water. The gem-quality diamond is the size of kernel of corn. It is the 196th diamond found at the park this year. On average, two diamonds are found each day at the park.

Crater of Diamonds is the world's only diamond-producing site where the public can visit, and search. The couple had rented a box screen and digging tools at the park, and had just attended a screening demonstration by Park Interpreter Rachel Engebrecht before they made their diamond discovery. The Cheungs discovered the gem while wet screening at one of the park's shaded washing pavilions. Since raw diamonds have an oily skin, water washes the dirt off a diamond and leaves the stone exposed.

The park regularly plows the search area to turn up new soil for park prospectors, and plowing has been done there over the last two days. The Cheungs had been digging in that freshly plowed soil.

At first, they thought the diamond was a piece of glass or plastic, and the couple kept the stone out of curiosity. When they brought the stone to the park visitor center for identification, a park staff member identified it as a white diamond. Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow. The three most common colors found at the Crater of Diamonds are white, brown and yellow, in that order.

The largest diamond found so far this year at the park was a 3.10-carat brown diamond unearthed by Colorado visitor Ray Baptista in April. His gem was the size of large English pea and golden brown, about the color of a drop of honey.

This year's third largest diamond discovery was a 1.24-carat white gem also unearthed in April by Shirley Strawn of Murfreesboro, who regularly prospects at the park. Strawn also discovered the 1.09-carat D-flawless "Strawn-Wagner Diamond" in 1990, a white gem that weighed 3.03 carats in the rough before it was cut to perfection in 1997 by the renowned New York diamond firm Lazare Kaplan International. The "Strawn-Wagner Diamond" is a celebrity gem. It is the most perfect diamond ever certified in the laboratory of the American Gem Society. The gem is on permanent display in a special exhibit in the Crater of Diamonds State Park visitor center.

Other semi-precious gems and minerals found here 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.

There are three methods of diamond searching. Surface searching involves walking up and down the plowed rows of dirt looking for diamonds on top of the ground. This is the most productive method following a hard rain. Rain washes the soil away, leaving diamonds and other rocks and minerals exposed on the surface.

Most visitors like to dig around in the soil and screen the diamond dirt. This usually involves searching through the first six inches to one foot of soil. Visitors can turn the soil over with a small hand tool while looking in the loose soil. Some visitors like to use a screen to sift the soil.

The third method of diamond hunting requires a lot of hard work and previous experience. This method is usually preferred by the repeat or regular visitor. It involves the digging of deep holes, removal of the right type soil, washing the soil in a series of screens, and patiently hand sorting the concentrated gravels from the screens. Prospectors look for low areas in the field where diamonds may have settled over the years, or they look for tailings from the earlier commercial mining plants of the '20s and '30s. Tailings are the waste gravel that went out of the plant. Over the years, these tailing piles have been covered by topsoil. The experienced hunters look for the tiny gravel, dig it up, and wash it again by hand looking for diamonds.

Over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at the Crater since those first found in 1906 by John Huddleston, the farmer who at that time owned the land. The largest diamond ever discovered in the United States was unearthed here in 1924. Named the "Uncle Sam," this white diamond weighed 40.23 carats. Other 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 24,000 discovered since the Crater became an Arkansas state park in 1972, is the 16.37-carat "Amarillo Starlight." A visitor from Texas found this 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.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is located two miles southeast of Murfreesboro. The park is open daily. Admission to the diamond search field is: Adult -- $5.00 each; Child (age 6-12) -- $2.50 each. With advance notice, groups of 15 persons or more can receive a group discount. Please check with the park.

The park offers 59 campsites with water and electric hookups, picnic sites, a cafe, visitor center with exhibits, gift shop, laundry, hiking trail and interpretive programs. Diamond Springs, the park's new aquatic playground, opened Memorial Day Weekend.

The park staff provides free identification and certification of diamonds. Park interpretive programs and the exhibit gallery in the park visitor center explain the site's geology and history and offer tips on recognizing diamonds in the rough. 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: craterofdiamonds@arkansas.com. Web site: www.craterofdiamondsstatepark.com.

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Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606
E-mail: info@arkansas.com

May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"