July 26, 2006
Arkansas — Park visitor Mike Ellison from Kings Mountain, North
Carolina has been calling Arkansas home since last August when he
temporarily relocated to the Murfreesboro area to devote about five
days a week to hunting for diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds State
Park, the state’s diamond site. Since then, Ellison, who is retired
from the United States Navy, has discovered approximately 50
diamonds at the park culminating in Sunday’s find of a stunning,
2.18-carat white diamond, the largest of all his finds.
According to Park Interpreter Rachel Engebrecht, “the diamond looks
like a sparkling piece of ice and appears to be internally
flawless.” She said, “It has a frozen appearance, is flat on one
side, and is a beautiful raw gem.” Ellison’s stone is the 273rd
diamond discovered at the park so far this year.
Engebrecht noted that Ellison plans to sell his diamond “for the
right price.” She noted that many diamond finders name their gems,
but Ellison didn’t. Engebrecht joked, “I guess we could refer to it
as ‘The Price is Right Diamond.’”
Ellison found his gem while wet screening material from the East
Drain area of the park’s 37 ˝-acre, diamond search area. This large,
plowed field is the eroded surface of the eighth largest
diamond-bearing deposit in the world in surface area. The East Drain
is a low point in the field. Over time, rainfall has washed many
diamonds down into this low area. Because of this, the East Drain
has produced many diamond finds.
There are three methods of diamond searching. Surface searching
involves walking up and down the plowed rows of dirt looking for
diamonds on top of the ground. This is the most productive method
following a hard rain. Rain washes the soil away, leaving diamonds
and other rocks and minerals exposed on the surface.
Most visitors like to dig in the soil and screen the diamond dirt.
This usually involves searching through the first six inches to
one-foot of soil. Visitors turn the soil over with a small hand tool
while looking in the loose soil. Some like to use a screen to sift
The third method of diamond hunting requires a lot of hard work and
previous experience. This method is usually preferred by the repeat
or regular visitor. It involves the digging of deep holes, removal
of the right type of soil, washing the soil in a series of screens,
and patiently hand sorting the concentrated gravels from the
Prospectors look for low areas in the field like the East Drain
where diamonds may have settled over the years or they look for
tailings from the earlier commercial mining plants of the 20's and
30's. Tailings are the waste gravel that went out of the plant. Over
the years, these tailing piles have been covered by topsoil. The
experienced hunters look for the tiny gravel, dig it up, and wash it
again by hand while looking for diamonds.
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
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. This year marks
the 100th anniversary of those first diamond finds.
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
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 located 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
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