Grandmother Finds Near 3-Carat Diamond at Arkansas State Park in Find of a Lifetime

A 71-year-old woman found a nearly three-carat ice-white diamond during a trip to Arkansas's Crater of Diamonds State Park. The retiree from Aurora, Colorado, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she made the discovery after only about 10 minutes of searching with her husband, son, grandson and granddaughter.

The park is one of only places in the world where the public can search for real diamonds in their original volcanic source. It includes a 37-acre plowed field—which is the eroded surface of a volcanic crater—bearing various rocks, minerals and gemstones.

Anything that's found is the finder's to keep. The woman found the diamond about halfway between the East Drain and North Wash Pavilion in the plowed field.

"I was using a rock to scrape the dirt but don't know if I uncovered the diamond with it or not," the woman said in a statement. "It was just lying on the surface!"

At first, the woman thought she had found a piece of glass, but fortunately, she gave the rock to her son, who put it in his pocket. When the family took the stone to the park's Diamond Discovery Center, staff revealed that it was, in fact, the largest diamond found at the site in 2018, weighing 2.63 carats.

"I didn't know what to think. I was shocked!" the Coloradan said.

A number of factors can make it easier to find diamonds at the park. First, staff plow the diamond-search area periodically to loosen the soil and hasten natural erosion. And because diamonds are heavy for their size and lack static electricity, dirt doesn't stick to them very easily. Furthermore, if rainfall uncovers larger diamonds and then the sun comes out, they sparkle and are often easy to see.

"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," Waymon Cox, a park official, said in the statement.

"Like other rocks and minerals, no two diamonds are exactly alike," he said. "This white diamond is about the size of a pinto bean and is shaped somewhat like a fingernail. Several brownish, freckle-like marks along the surface give the gem a unique, one-of-a-kind appearance."

So far this year, more than 250 diamonds have been identified at the park, with five weighing more than one carat each. And in total, more than 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at the site since the first ones were found in 1906 by farmer John Huddleston, who owned the land before it became a state park in 1972.

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The nearly 3-carat diamond found by a retiree searching in Arkansas's Crater of Diamonds State Park. Crater of Diamonds State Park

The largest diamond ever discovered in the United States was found at the park in 1924 during a mining operation. Named the "Uncle Sam," the white diamond with a pink cast weighed 40.23 carats. The largest diamond ever found by a visitor to the park was the 16.37-carat "Amarillo Starlight," discovered in 1975.

Diamonds consist of pure carbon and are the hardest naturally occurring known substance. They are a popular gemstone and have a number of important industrial applications due to their extreme hardness. The stones are weighed in carats—one carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams.

Most natural diamonds were formed between around 1 billion and 3.5 billion years ago deep in Earth's mantle under extremely high pressure and temperatures. They vary from colorless to black, and they may be transparent, translucent or opaque, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

"Most diamonds used as gems are transparent and colorless or nearly so. Colorless or pale blue stones are most valued, but these are rare; most gem diamonds are tinged with yellow. A 'fancy' diamond has a distinct body color; red, blue and green are rarest, and orange, violet, yellow, and yellowish green more common," according to Encyclopedia Britannica.