April 8, 2005Park Visitor Unearths 25,000th Diamond at Arkansas's Crater of Diamonds State Park
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
State Parks Division
MURFREESBORO--Another milestone was reached at Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park on May 7 when Marshall Rieff of Fayetteville unearthed the 25,000th diamond found by a park visitor since the state’s diamond site became an Arkansas state park in 1972. Rieff’s find was a .19-carat white diamond [NOTE: There are 100 points in a carat, so this gem is a little less than one-quarter of a carat.]. While visiting the park for nine days, Rieff found a total of 16 diamonds prospecting in the park’s 37 ½-acre diamond search area. The largest of his finds was a 1.62-carat yellow diamond unearthed on May 1.
He has visited Arkansas’s diamond site on a regular basis for 25 years. According to Rieff, however, he did not get serious about his diamond prospecting until 15 years ago.
Crater of Diamonds State Park is the only world’s only diamond-producing site open to the public. The park offers visitors a one-of-a-kind experience, the opportunity to prospect for real diamonds and keep any stones regardless of their value. The park’s diamond search area is a large plowed field that is the eroded surface of the world’s eighth largest diamond-bearing deposit in surface area.
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.
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. On average, two diamonds are found each day at the park. The largest diamond discoveries so far this year at the park have been a:
• 1.79-carat brown found on March 19
• 1.62-carat yellow found on May 1
• 1.56-carats brown found on April 3
• 1.29-carat white found on April 15
• 1.24-carat white found on May 5
In total, over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at Arkansas’s diamond site since those first 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 25,000 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.
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 that were located there during the 20's and 30's. 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.
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—$6 each; Child (age 6-12)—$3 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 aquatic playground, premiered last Memorial Day Weekend.
Crater of Diamonds State Park is one of the 51 state parks administered by the State Parks Division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
For more information, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web site: www.craterofdiamondsstatepark.com.####
Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606
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"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"