Arkansan Finds 2.37-Carat White Diamond At Crater of Diamonds State Park

Article follows the photos:
Star of Thelma
Star of Thelma
For Immediate Release

Gem Marks the Fourth Largest Diamond Find at Arkansas’s Diamond Site For the Year 2006

(Murfreesboro) — The year 2006 has been an especially good year for visitors at Arkansas’s diamond site, the Crater of Diamonds State Park, the only diamond-bearing site in the world where the public can search. Several large, gem-quality diamonds were found by park visitors this year including the 6.35-carat brown Roden Diamond found in September by a couple from Point, Texas; the 5.47-carat yellow Sunshine Diamond found in October by a visitor from Ripon, Wisconsin; and the 4.21-carat yellow Okie Dokie Diamond found in March by a state trooper from Nowata, Oklahoma. Today, Gary Dunlap from Jefferson, Arkansas, found the fourth largest diamond unearthed at the park this year, a 2.37-carat white diamond he’s named the Star of Thelma to honor his wife of 10 ½ years.

Dunlap found his diamond at 9:15 a.m. while looking on the surface of the park’s diamond search area near a Bois d’Arc tree in a portion of the 37 1/-2 acre search field called Beatty’s Hill. According to Dunlap, he knew the shiny stone was a diamond when he picked it up off the ground. He has visited the Crater of Diamonds about 10 or 12 times over the years since his first visit there as a child in the 1960s when the site was privately owned and operated as a tourist attraction before becoming an Arkansas state park in 1972. Thrilled by his diamond find today, Dunlap said this is the first diamond he’s found at the park.

According to Park Interpreter Aneesah Rasheed, “Mr. Dunlap’s diamond is a shiny stone. It’s a sparkling white color. The diamond is a little larger than an English Pea, but not round.” She noted, “The diamond is an octahedral shape, like two pyramids joined at the base. This is a shape that I’ve seen many times in the larger diamonds that have been found here at the park.”

Rasheed continued, “This is the 486th diamond found at the park this year and it’s the fourth largest of this year’s diamond finds.” Noting what a successful year it’s been for park visitors, she said, “Over 15 diamonds this year have weighed over a carat. And, Mr. Dunlap’s 2.37-carat diamond is the largest of the four diamonds that weighed two carats each.”

Rasheed emphasized, “And, if you add together the weight of four largest diamonds found this year—6.35 carats, 5.47 carats, 4.21 carats, and Mr. Dunlap’s 2.37 carats—those four gems total 18.40 carats!”

She said, “And, Mr. Dunlap’s diamond find today—the last day of this year—is the perfect way to end this wonderful year for our park visitors.”

According to Gary Dunlap, his wife often digs for diamonds with him. However, this morning, she chose to stay at their local motel room to relax. He couldn’t wait to show her his diamond find, and jokingly, sort of “rub her face in it” since she didn’t go diamond hunting with him today. But when he returned to the motel and showed the gem to his wife—a diamond he named for her—she at first thought her husband was joking.

The couple hasn’t decided yet what they plan to do with their diamond.

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 over a 37 ½ plowed field, the eroded surface of the world’s eighth largest, diamond-bearing deposit in surface area.

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—$6.50 each; Child (age 6-12)—$3.50 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: Aneesah Rasheed, park interpreter, Crater of Diamonds State Park, 209 State Park Road, Murfreesboro, AR 71958. Phone: (870) 285-3113. E-mail: aneesah.rasheed@arkansas.gov. Web site: www.craterofdiamondsstatepark.com.