News Releases

Colorado Visitor Finds 8.66-Carat White Diamond at Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park

Article follows the photos:
  • 8.66-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

  • 8.66-carat diamond alongside an Arkansas commemorative quarter

  • 8.66-carat diamond held by finder Beth Gilbertson

  • Beth Gilbertson with her 8.66-carat Illusion Diamond

April 27, 2011
Diamond Ranks as Third Largest Diamond Found By a Park Visitor since Crater of Diamonds State Park Was Established in 1972


(MURFREESBORO, Ark.) —Many dream of finding a big diamond at Arkansas’s diamond site and yesterday’s 8.66-carat diamond find by Beth Gilbertson of Salida, Colorado, proves that dreams can still come true. According to Park Superintendent Justin Dorsey, “Large diamonds continue to be found here at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Weighing 8.66 carats, this absolutely beautiful white diamond is the third largest diamond of the 27,000 diamonds found by park visitors since the Crater of Diamonds became an Arkansas state park in 1972.” He said, “Ms. Gilbertson’s diamond is only topped in size by the 16.37-carat Amarillo Starlight found in 1975 by park visitor W. W. Johnson of Amarillo, Texas, and the 8.82-carat Star of Shreveport found by Carroll Blankenship of Shreveport, Louisiana, in June 1981.” Dorsey said, “It has been almost 30 years since we’ve seen a diamond of this size found at the park. And, we are all so happy for Ms. Gilbertson. ”   

After seeing The Travel Channel’s “The Best Places to Find Cash and Treasures” which includes a segment on the Crater of Diamonds, Gilbertson became a regular visitor at the park. Yesterday, she was scraping gravel out of a drainage ditch on the Beatty’s Hill portion of the park’s 37 ½-acre search area and discovered the diamond while wet sifting buckets of dirt at the north washing pavilion while also helping two other visitors learn how to search.  Thrilled that her efforts paid off in such a big way, Gilbertson said, “I’d collected four buckets of dirt for me to search and two for the other visitors. The diamond ended up being in one of my buckets.”

She said, “I’ve found other diamonds at the park, but when I first noticed this one, I couldn’t quite believe that something that large could be a real diamond. I thought it was a piece of glass. So, I asked another visitor, this is a diamond, right?”  Gilbertson continued, “I felt sure it was a diamond, but yet couldn’t quite believe it.”  Because of this, she named her gem the Illusion Diamond. “I’ve worked very hard searching for diamonds. But yesterday while helping other visitors learn how to search, and searching in an area where I don’t normally work, the diamond showed up. The illusion materialized,” she said.

According to Park Interpreter Waymon Cox, “The diamond is jaw-dropping. It’s icy white with a metallic luster. And, it’s a flat trapezoidal-shape crystal and the size of a nickel.”  It is the196th diamond find at the park this year.

Cox said that when Gilbertson brought the diamond to the park visitor center where diamonds are weighed and certified by park staff, she smiled and said to him, “Hold out your hand. You won’t need a microscope to see this one.” And, Cox could hear the weight of the diamond hitting the sides of the plastic container she’d placed it in. Gilbertson guessed it would weigh four carats. The park staff estimated seven. “Then, we weighed it and it turned out to be 8.66 carats!” said Cox. He continued, “Here at the Crater of Diamonds State Park, our history is always changing. Now, we have a new third largest diamond find by a park visitor.” Cox emphasized, “A large and unexpected diamond can appear here. It’s what makes this park so unique, and it’s what keeps people coming here.”

The search area at the Crater of Diamonds State Park is a 37 ½-acre plowed field, the eroded surface of the eighth largest diamond-bearing deposit in the world in surface area. It is the world’s only diamond-producing site open to the public.  

On average, two diamonds are found each day at the park. The park’s policy is finder-keepers. What park visitors find is theirs to keep. 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.

Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow. The colors found at the Crater of Diamonds are white, brown and yellow, in that order. Other semi-precious gems and minerals found in the park’s search area 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.

In total, over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at Arkansas’s diamond site since the first diamonds 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 ever discovered in the United States was unearthed here in 1924 during an early, privately run mining operation.  Named the Uncle Sam, that white diamond with a pink cast weighed 40.23 carats.  Other notable finds from before the site became a state park include the Star of Murfreesboro (34.25 carats) and the Star of Arkansas (15.33 carats).

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 display in a special exhibit in the Crater of Diamonds State Park visitor center.

Another gem from the Crater is the flawless 4.25-carat Kahn Canary diamond that was discovered at the park in 1977. This uncut, triangular-shape gem has been on exhibit at many cities around the U.S. and overseas. It 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, Arkansas, 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.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is located on Ark. 301 at 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:  Waymon Cox, park interpreter, Crater of Diamonds State Park, 209 State Park Road, Murfreesboro, AR 71958. Phone:  870-285-3113.  E-mail:  Or visit