Visitor from Tennessee Finds 1.30-Carat Yellow Diamond In Newly Trenched Soil at Crater of Diamonds State Park

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 21, 2006


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Photo available: Tom Stolarz (870) 285-3113
E-mail: tom.stolarz@arkansas.gov

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Discovery Marks The First Diamond Find Since A New Trench Was Excavated in West Drain Area of Arkansas’s Diamond Site


(Murfreesboro) — Even though her husband told her she wasn’t going to find anything, Melissa Lacey of Knoxville, Tennessee, made the trip to Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park with her mother, Peggy Spreeuw, to search for diamonds. According to Lacey, “I wasn’t expecting to find anything and was just picking up pretty rocks. I even found a rock that looks like a sandwich.” Lacey didn’t know she had a diamond and actually thought it was “a piece of dirty quartz.” After it was identified as a 1.30-carat yellow diamond by park staff, Lacey said she was surprised and couldn’t wait to show it to her husband. Lacey was collecting minerals from the park’s diamond search area by a combination of wet-screening and looking on the surface of the plowed field when she found this keepsake, a beautiful light yellow gem about the size of a piece of candy corn, according to Park Superintendent Tom Stolarz.

Stolarz noted that when Lacey finished her searching on the diamond field and returned to the park’s Diamond Discovery Center to have her finds identified, she poured them out of a her fast-food drink cup on the counter for Park Interpreter Aneesha Rasheed to examine. Rasheed said, “Like most visitors, Ms. Lackey poured out her finds and said ‘I know I don’t have anything but I just want to know what my rocks are.’” She just stood there in shock when I told her it was a diamond noted Rasheed.

Lackey and her mother had made plans to go crystal mining on Thursday, but decided to spend another day at the Crater instead.

In order to enhance the chance for diamond finds by park visitors, a new trench was excavated in the area of the diamond field known as the West Drain. The soil being removed from the trench was spread out over adjacent portions of the diamond field to a depth of about six inches. The trench was completed and opened to the public on September 16, 2006, and was immediately followed by a heavy rain on September 18. According to Rasheed, Lackey was searching in an area of the park where the soil had been spread out when she found her 1.30-carat, light yellow diamond.

Park Superintendent Tom Stolarz said, “This method of opening new diamond-bearing ground at depth here at the park helps provide a more rewarding diamond hunting experience for visitors. I think that this is just the first of many exciting diamond finds coming out of this material.” The soil being removed cuts through unsearched diamond-bearing ground that was previously inaccessible to park prospectors since the trench uncovers new material. Stolarz emphasized that the success of the East Drain trench that was excavated last year has been very exciting for the park. Several large diamonds have been discovered by visitors as a direct result of that trench. These stones include the 1.22-carat white diamond that Steve Lee of Morning Star discovered and gave to his mother. Also, a 1.11-carat white diamond was found on the surface by 9-year old Courtney Conder of Grantsburg, Illinois, in June. And in July, U.S. Navy retiree Mike Ellison of Kings Mountain, North Carolina, dug up a 2.18-carat white gem.

Stolarz said, “Over the years, I’ve seen many diamonds come out of the site of the new trench in the West Drain, too. I remember the 3.20-carat Divello diamond, the 4.25-carat Dill diamond, the 3.76-carat Albin diamond and the 5.63-carat white diamond that was named the Star of Karen. According to Stolarz, 344 diamonds have been found by park visitors so far this year. The largest of these was a 4.21-carat, flawless canary yellow diamond found on March 12 by Oklahoma State Highway Patrol trooper Marvin Culver of Nowata, Oklahoma. Culver and his gem, named the Okie Dokie Diamond, were featured on the NBC “Today Show” three days later.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is one of the 52 state parks administered by the State Parks Division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Located in southwest Arkansas two miles southeast of Murfreesboro on Ark. 301, the park is the world's only publicly-operated diamond site where the public is allowed to search and keep any gems found, regardless of value. 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.

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 of the 25,000 diamonds 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 of Diamonds.

The 3.03-carat Strawn-Wagner Diamond was unearthed at the park in 1990 and later cut to a 1.09-carat gem in New York by Lazare Kaplan International in 1997. The American Gem Society graded the diamond a D-Flawless, O/O/O (for cut/color/clarity) in April 1998 and noted it was the most perfect diamond their laboratory had ever certified.

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.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is open daily. Admission to the diamond search area is: Adult—$6 each; Child (age 6-12)—$3 each. With advance notice, organized groups of 15 persons or more can receive a group discount.

The park offers 59 campsites with water and electric hookups, picnic sites, picnic pavilion, a cafe, visitor center with exhibits, gift shop, the Diamond Discovery Center, Diamond Springs aquatic playground, laundry, hiking trail and interpretive programs.

The park staff provides free identification and certification of diamonds. Park interpretive programs, the exhibit gallery in the park visitor center, and the Diamond Discovery Center explain the site’s geology and history and offer tips on recognizing diamonds in the rough.

For more information about the park, contact: Tom Stolarz, park superintendent, Crater of Diamonds State Park, 209 State Park Road, Murfreesboro, AR 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"