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Visitor From Michigan Finds 4.68-carat White Diamond at Arkansas's Crater of Diamonds State Park


For Immediate Release

Murfreesboro -- Richard Burke and his wife, Carol, of Flint, Michigan, had been visiting Colorado. While there, they went panning for gold and fossil hunting. He then decided to drive 950 miles in two days to visit Arkansas’s diamond site, the Crater of Diamonds State Park. He'd read about Arkansas’s diamond site in a geology book and seen a feature about the park that aired on The Travel Channel’s show, “The Best Places to Find Cash and Treasures.” Their visit to the Crater of Diamonds paid off when Richard found a 4.68-carat white diamond in the park’s diamond search area at 11:15 a.m. today. Burke, a retired high school counselor and golf coach, unearthed his gem while surface searching in a shallow ravine near West Drain area of the park’s 37 ½-acre search area. He had been searching for approximately three hours this morning when Burke discovered it.

According to Assistant Superintendent Bill Henderson, Burke’s white diamond looks like a frosted ice cube and is about the size of piece of Chicklet Gum. Burke named his diamond the Sweet Caroline after his wife, Carol, and their song, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” They plan to keep the diamond and mount it in a piece of jewelry.

Henderson noted that it was the 612th diamond found by a park visitor so far this year. According to Henderson, “Surface hunting is very good at the Crater of Diamonds State Park right now because of the heavy rains the park received from recent Tropical Depression Gustav and Tropical Depression Ike.”

Henderson emphasized that the park policy is finder-keepers. “What park visitors find in the diamond search area is theirs to keep.”

The search area at the Crater of Diamonds is a 37 ½-acre plowed field, 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. Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow. The three most common colors found at the park are white, brown and yellow, in that order. 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 rough.

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. 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 carats).

The largest diamond of the 27,000 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 Tourism.

For more information, contact: Bill Henderson, assistant park superintendent, Crater of Diamonds State Park, 209 State Park Road, Murfreesboro, Arkansas 71958. Phone: 870-285-3113. E-mail: bill.henderson@arkansas.gov. Or visit craterofdiamondsstatepark.com.

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