Arkansan Unearths 2.67-Carat Yellow Diamond At Crater of Diamonds State Park

Article follows the photos:
Jim Gatliff & His Find
Jim Gatliff & His Find
The Gatliff Diamond
The Gatliff Diamond
For Immediate Release

Pale Yellow Gem Marks the Largest of the 40 Diamonds Found So Far This Year At Arkansas’s Diamond Site

(Murfreesboro) — The year 2006 was an especially good year for visitors at Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park, the only diamond-bearing site in the world where the public can search for diamonds. Several large, gem-quality diamonds were found by park visitors that included 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. The year ended with Gary Dunlap of Jefferson, Arkansas, finding a 2.37-carat white diamond on New Year’s Eve that he named the Star of Thelma to honor his wife of 10 ½ years. According to Parks Superintendent Tom Stolarz, “The year 2007 is now off to a great start with the unearthing of a stunning 2.67-carat yellow diamond this week by Jim Gatliff of Delight, Arkansas.”

Gatliff found his gem on Monday around 10:00 a.m. while digging in the West Drain of the park’s 37 ½-acre diamond search area. A large plowed field, it is the eroded surface of an ancient, gem-bearing pipe—the world’s eighth largest diamond-bearing deposit in surface area. A trench was dug in the West Drain area by the park in mid-September to open up new levels of dirt for park prospectors to search. Gatliff, however, waited until late yesterday to have his diamond certified by park officials. According to Gatliff, he has visited the park on many occasions dating back to when he was seven years old. Thrilled by Monday’s diamond discovery, he said that it is the largest of his diamond finds over the years.

Gatliff plans to name his diamond but still hasn’t decided on one. He said that he might name it for his daughter, Michelle, or granddaughter, Angela.

Tom Stolarz said, “Mr. Gatliff’s yellow diamond is a beautiful, dodecahedral shaped stone. It’s somewhat oval shaped and about the size of an English pea. In fact, in shape it looks like a smaller version of the flawless canary, 4.21-carat Okie Dokie Diamond that was found at the park last March by Oklahoma State Trooper Marvin Culver.” He continued, “This diamond has an inclusion—a natural birthmark—on one side, but the center of the gem is very clear.” Stolarz noted that there’s another similarity between those two diamond finds. Gatliff found his yellow diamond in his second bucket of dirt Monday morning just as Marvin Culver found his canary diamond in his second bucket, too.

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 gems 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 just two miles southeast of Murfreesboro. It is one of the 52 state parks administered by the State Parks Division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

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: tom.stolarz@arkansas.gov. Or visit craterofdiamondsstatepark.com.

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