Visitor From Wisconsin Discovers 5.47-carat Yellow Diamond at Arkansas's Crater of Diamonds State Park

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Murfreesboro — Bob Wehle of Ripon, Wisconsin, had previously visited Crater of Diamonds State Park six or seven times since 2003 and found four relatively small diamonds. He decided to visit Arkansas’s diamond site again during his vacation this month. His decision to pay the park another visit paid off. A trench was dug by park staff in mid-September in the West Drain area of park’s 37 ½-acre diamond search area to open up new levels of dirt for park prospectors to search. As Wehle was digging in the trench, he unearthed a flawless, 5.47-carat, canary yellow diamond, the second largest diamond found so far this year at the park, according to Park Superintendent Tom Stolarz.

Storlarz noted that although Wehle found the gem last Saturday, October 14, he waited until today, at the end of his vacation, to bring the diamond to the park visitor center to be weighed and certified.

Wehle was wet screening dirt from the trench using a combination of screens that featured various sizes of mesh, with the largest mesh on the top. When he saw the bright yellow diamond appear in the top screen—the ¼-inch mesh screen—Wehle immediately knew that he had a significant find. He exclaimed to himself, “Now ‘that’s’ a diamond!” And, then he realized that he was shaking from the excitement of his large diamond find.

Tom Stolarz said, “Mr. Wehle’s canary-colored gem weighed in at 5.47 carats. It’s an absolutely gorgeous gem. At first glance, it makes you think of a lemon drop candy.” He continued, “It has a compact, rounded double pyramid shape and no visible flaws.” Stolarz noted that as other park visitors got to the opportunity to look at Wehle’s diamond, too, the word heard most often was “wow!”

According to Stolarz, Wehle said that he might sell his big diamond at some point, but has not decided for certain at this time.

Bob Wehle described the experience of finding his gem as “an amazing thing, a lifetime memory.” When asked by the park staff if he had named the gem, Wehle said he wasn’t sure what he wanted to call it, but was considering naming it the “Sunshine Diamond,” although he’s still undecided.

Stolarz said, “I’ve worked at the Crater of Diamonds State Park for 24 years now, and I’ve served as its park superintendent since 2003. The most exciting moments in this job are times exactly like this. It’s the opportunity to watch good things like this happen to our park visitors.”

He noted that the park staff has worked to enhance visitors’ chances at finding diamonds. “Last August we dug a trench in the East Drain and this September we dug another trench in the West Drain area to open up new material for visitors to search.”

Stolarz emphasized, “And some real gem dandy gems have been unearthed from both sites including Marvin Culver’s 4.21-carat yellow Okie Dokie Diamond found on March 12, Mike Ellison’s 2.18-carat white Moonshine Diamond from July 25, Mr. and Mrs. Roden’s 6.35-carat brown diamond on September 23, and now Bob Wehle’s 5.47-carat yellow diamond from October 14. He continued, “So that work is working on behalf of our park visitors just as we had hoped and expected it would.”

Stolarz joked, “In fact, Mr. Wehle said that his wife had heard about the Okie Dokie Diamond and that news had made her more supportive of her husband’s latest trip to the Crater of Diamonds.” He continued, “He said that she said something along the line of, ‘Why don’t you find something like that?’” Stolarz noted, “And now, sure enough, they own a stunning, flawless canary diamond from the Crater of Diamonds, too.”

Wehle’s diamond was the largest find at the park since Donald and Brenda Roden of Point, Texas, found their 6.35-carat brown diamond on September 23. The Roden Diamond was also the eighth largest diamond discovered since the Crater of Diamonds became an Arkansas state park in 1972.

The third largest Crater diamond of 2006 was the 4.21-carat, flawless canary yellow Okie Dokie Diamond found on March 12 by Oklahoma State Highway Patrol Trooper Marvin Culver of Nowata, Oklahoma.

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. Park visitors search for diamonds in a 37 1/2-acre plowed field that is the eroded surface of the eighth largest diamond-bearing deposit in surface area in the world. Other semi-precious gems and minerals found here include amethyst, garnet, 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.

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.

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.

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 canary 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 as a special way to represent Arkansas’s diamond site at the galas celebrating both of Bill Clinton’s presidential inaugurals.

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 café (open seasonally), visitor center with exhibits, gift shop, the Diamond Discovery Center, Diamond Springs aquatic playground (open seasonally), laundry,hiking trails 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: Rachel Engebrecht, Park Interpreter, Crater of Diamonds State Park, 209 State Park Road, Murfreesboro, AR 71958.
Phone: (870) 285-3113. E-mail: rachel.engebrecht@arkansas.gov. 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"