MURFREESBORO, Ark. (Jan. 31) -When a large diamond is found at Arkansas's diamond site, the Crater of Diamonds State Park, park staff will always hear the question, "What is it worth?" The park staff is trained to identify rough diamonds, but not to appraise a rough diamond's worth.
A diamond's appraisal, either in the stone's rough form, or later after it has been cut and polished, must be done elsewhere. The beautiful white, 2.44-carat Silver Moon diamond found last year on March 20, the Sunday of the weekend of the full moon supermoon event, by Melissa and Kenny Oliver of Rosston, Arkansas, was recently cut to a 1.06-carat pear-shaped diamond appraised at $21,639.
Bill Underwood of Underwood's Fine Jewelers in Fayetteville, Arkansas's first certified gemologist, has been chosen by many Crater diamond owners over the years to serve as their agent when they decided to have their diamonds cut. He assisted the Oliver's with their diamond. According to Underwood, the cut Silver Moon diamond is close to a perfect diamond, according to the Gemological Institute of America's grading report. Its color is an "F," which is two steps down from the top grade of "D". The cut is a pear brilliant, which is close to the best cut of a round brilliant. Its clarity grade, which measures the number, type, and size of any flaws, is a VVS2, only one level down from VVS1, the highest grade a diamond can achieve.
In its rough form at 2.44 carats, the diamond was a triangular-shape. On average, a diamond will lose approximately 40 to 60 percent of its rough weight when cut.
The Oliver's, who enjoy the adventure of treasure hunting and make regular visits the Crater of Diamonds State Park, hope to sell the Silver Moon.
The search area at the Crater of Diamonds State Park 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. 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 certification of diamonds. Park interpretive programs and exhibits explain the site's geology and history, and offer tips on recognizing diamonds in the rough.
Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow. The colors found at the Crater of Diamonds are white, brown and yellow, in that order. 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.
Over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at Arkansas's diamond site. The first diamonds were unearthed 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 Star of Murfreesboro (34.25 carats) and the Star of Arkansas (15.33 carats).
The largest diamond of the almost 30,000 discovered by park visitors since the site 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 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.
For more information, contact: Margi Jenks, park interpreter, Crater of Diamonds State Park, 209 State Park Road, Murfreesboro, AR 71958. Phone: 870-285-3113.