A 71 year old grandmother from Aurora, Colorado, is being credited with finding the largest diamond so far this year at Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park — the only diamond site in the world where amateur prospectors get to keep what they discover. The 2.63-carat diamond is the size of a pinto bean and whitish in color, with several brownish specks on the surface.
The retiree, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she found the gem after only 10 minutes of searching with her husband, son, grandson and granddaughter. At first glance, she thought the stone might be glass, but she still asked her son to hold it in his pocket so it could be examined later by park officials.
The woman named her rough diamond "Lichtenfels," a nod to her hometown in Germany. The word means “a rock between two lights,” which is significant because she was standing between her grandchildren when she found the diamond.
“She wouldn’t have come to the park if it weren’t for her grandkids,” said the finder's son. “They’re her two points of light.”
The lucky grandmother pulled the rough diamond from the soil about halfway between the park's North Wash Pavilion and East Drain. Visitors are encouraged to try their luck at prospecting using basic tools in a 37-acre plowed field, which is really the eroded surface of a volcanic crater.
Even though she found her diamond early in her search, the family continued to prospect for another hour before returning to the park's Diamond Discovery Center, where experts are on hand to help visitors identify what they've found.
When she learned that she'd made the biggest diamond discovery of 2018, the grandmother said, “I didn’t know what to think. I was shocked!”
Park Interpreter Waymon Cox said, “About one out of every five diamonds registered by park visitors is found right on top of the ground, including many of the largest ever found at the Crater of Diamonds.”
So far this year, over 250 diamonds weighing a total of almost 50 carats have been registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park. The three most common diamond colors found at the park are white, brown and yellow, in that order. In total, more than 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at the Crater of Diamonds since the first diamonds were found there in 1906 by John Huddleston, a farmer who owned the land long before it became an Arkansas State Park in 1972.
The largest diamond ever discovered in the United States was unearthed there in Murfreesboro in 1924 during a mining operation. Named the “Uncle Sam,” the white diamond with a pinkish cast weighed 40.23 carats. The largest diamond ever discovered at the park by a visitor was the 16.37-carat "Amarillo Starlight" in 1975.
Access to the diamond field is $8 for visitors 13 and older. Tickets for children 6 through 12 cost $5, and kids ages 5 and younger get to prospect for free. Who wants to plan their next family vacation to include diamond prospecting?
Credit: Image courtesy of Crater of Diamonds State Park.