MURFREESBORO, Ark. (NEWS RELEASE)–Terry Staggs of Richmond, Ky., took advantage of a long weekend away from work and drove to the Crater of Diamonds State Park to once again try his luck searching for diamonds at Arkansas’s diamond site. According to Staggs, he’s been visiting the park a couple of times each year for the past 28 years. The stunning 2.95-carat, champagne brown diamond he found on the morning of July 4 marks the largest of the many diamonds he’s found at the park. It’s also the largest of the 304 diamonds found by park visitors so far this year. Since he found the gem on Independence Day, he named it the Patriot Diamond.
According to Park Interpreter Waymon Cox, the diamond is stunning in its rough form, just as the forces of nature created it. “Mr. Staggs’ diamond appears to be a complete crystal and is shaped like a shield. It’s about the size of an English Pea and has a golden brown metallic appearance,” Cox said. “The diamond looks similar in shape to the 4.21-carat yellow Okie Dokie Diamond, which was discovered by Oklahoma State Trooper Marvin Culver at the Crater of Diamonds in 2006.”
Staggs found the diamond while walking the East Drain section of the park’s 37 ½-acre diamond search area and checking out everything that sparkled. The diamond caught his attention after he’d been surface searching for about two and one half hours.
Cox noted that the colors of diamonds found at the park are white, brown, and yellow, in that order. “Because of their color, brown diamonds are often difficult to find in the dark dirt of the diamond search area. However, sunny weather conditions on July 4th were perfect for this sparkler to catch Mr. Staggs’ attention as he searched,” said Cox. “Mr. Staggs’ gem was found in gravel on the surface of the East Drain area. Sunlight reflecting off the diamond made it stand out from the other stones.”
The search area at the Crater of Diamonds is a 37 ½-acre plowed field that is 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 registration of diamonds. Park interpretive programs and exhibits explain the site’s geology and history, and offer tips on recognizing diamonds in the rough.
Cox continued, “Many factors help visitors who like to surface search for diamonds at the park. Park personnel regularly plow the diamond search area to help with natural erosion. Erosion from heavy rains concentrates the heavy rocks and minerals, like diamonds, in the low-lying parts of the search area, and also occasionally exposes larger diamonds, like the one found by Mr. Staggs.”
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 in 1972. 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 Amarillo Starlight, a 15.33-carat white diamond discovered in 1975, and the Star of Shreveport, an 8.82-carat white gem unearthed in 1981. In 2011, an 8.66-carat white diamond named the Illusion Diamond became the third-largest gem registered at the Crater of Diamonds State Park since 1972.
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 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. It 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.