Largest Diamond Found This Year Is Unearthed at the Crater of Diamonds State Park

December 19, 2005


Park Visitor Unearths Stunning 3.36-carat Yellow Diamond at Arkansas's Crater of Diamonds State Park
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Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
State Parks Division


MURFREESBORO—After digging in the diamond search area at Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park for about an hour today, Harold Lay of Murfreesboro unearthed a flawless, 3.36-carat lemon yellow diamond. His gem is the largest of the 520 diamonds that have been found by park visitors this year at the Arkansas state park, the world’s only diamond-bearing site where the public can prospect.

According to Park Interpreter Rachel Engebrecht, “Mr. Lay was very happy to find a diamond like this so close to Christmas, and he has no plans to sell it.” She said, “His gem appeared to be nearly flawless, transparent like a drop of water, and lemon yellow in color. Its shape was similar to a very compact, slightly flattened octahedron—sort of like a lopsided double-pyramid.” Engebrecht continued, “The size of the diamond falls somewhere between the size of a large English pea and a jelly bean.”

Engebrecht noted that all the park staff who saw Mr. Lay’s gem commented on what an impressive gem it was in its raw form, just as the forces of heat and pressure created it. She said they talked about how stunning it would look mounted, in its rough form, in a ring setting or on a necklace.

Harold Lay is well known at the park. He’s been searching for diamonds there since 1995 and has found over 500 diamonds. Lay found a 5.57-carat white diamond in 2000. Although Lay, who is retired, enjoys treasure hunting at a wide variety of sites, he spends the majority of his time prospecting for diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds.

The 37 1/2-acre, diamond search area at the Crater of Diamonds State Park is the eroded top of the eighth largest diamond-bearing deposit in the world in surface area. Lay found the gem in an area known as the East Drain, a low place where many diamonds have settled in this low spot over time.

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. 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 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 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.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is located two miles southeast of Murfreesboro. The park is open daily.

For more information, contact: Rachel Engebrecht, park interpreter, Crater of Diamonds State Park, 209 State Park Road, Murfreesboro, Arkansas 71958. Phone: (870) 285-3113. E-mail: craterofdiamonds@arkansas.com. Web site: 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"