Throughout the pandemic, U.S. national and state parks have seen a surge in visitors as Americans, eager to get out of their houses, rediscover the great outdoors. But one visitor to an Arkansas state park got more than fresh air and exercise during her recent visit when she discovered a 4.38-carat yellow diamond, about the size of a jellybean—and she’s allowed to keep it!
Noreen and Michael Wredberg of Granite Bay, California, retired in 2011 and began exploring the nation’s public parks. During a recent trip to Arkansas’s Hot Springs National Park, Noreen suggested an additional stop at Crater of Diamonds State Park nearby Murfreesboro. That’s where she stumbled upon the gemstone, which she’s christened Lucy’s Diamond, in honor of the couple’s cat.
The park, located in a volcanic crater, is known for its rich array of rocks, minerals, and gemstones, including amethyst, garnet, jasper, agate, quartz, and, yes, diamonds. Since the park’s founding, in 1972, visitors have found 33,100 diamonds there—and they are allowed to keep each and every one.
The land’s former owner, farmer John Huddleston, found the first stones in 1906, and some 75,000 have since been discovered.
The Lucy Diamond, which is the 258th diamond found at the park this year, has not yet been appraised, according to CBS News.
“Arkansas is the only state in the country that has a diamond mine open to the public,” Arkansas parks secretary Stacy Hurst said in a statement. “It’s such a unique experience and visitors make lifetime memories, whether or not they find a diamond. Of course, finding a diamond adds to the experience!”
The Wredburgs visited at a fortuitous time, just a couple of days after a storm, when rainfall had ran through the soil, which helps uncover precious stones.
“We plow the search area periodically to loosen the soil and promote natural erosion,” park interpreter Waymon Cox said. “Diamonds are somewhat heavy for their size and lack static electricity, so dirt doesn’t stick to them. When rain uncovers a larger diamond and the sun comes out, its reflective surface is often easy to see.”
“We really didn’t think we would find one, let alone something that big!” Noreen said.
In 1924, decades before Crater of Diamonds became a state park, miners found the Uncle Sam, the largest diamond ever discovered in the U.S. A white stone with a pink cast, it weighed 40.23 carats. A collector bought a 12.42-carat version of it cut into an emerald shape for $150,000 in 1971.
The biggest diamond discovered since the land became a park is the 16.37-carat white Amarillo Starlight, found in 1975. The second-largest stone, the Kinard Friendship Diamond, turned up over Labor Day Weekend in 2020. Bank branch manager Kevin Kinard found the marble-sized brown crystal, which weighs 9.07 carats, after coming up empty handed during 15 years of regular visits to the park.
See more photos of the Lucy Diamond below.
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