A Colorado woman unearthed a super-rare find last Friday while visiting the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Ark. — a gleaming, icicle-shaped 8.52-carat white diamond.
Bobbie Oskarson of Longmont, Colo., found the unusual-shaped stone – about half the size of a quarter and the thickness of a pencil – while digging in the southwest corner of the “Pig Pen,” a muddy search field covering 37½ acres. It was first thought to be a quartz crystal, but park staffers, who help visitors identify and register diamonds, confirmed its authenticity.
Crater of Diamonds, one of the world's only diamond-producing sites that is open to the public, welcomes visitors to hunt for gems and maintains a "finders keepers" policy.
Park representative Waymon Cox told CNN that Oskarson's gem is the fifth-largest diamond found since the park was established in 1972. So far this year, 227 diamonds have been registered.
Added Cox, "Ms. Oskarson’s 8 1/2-carat diamond is absolutely stunning, sparkling with a metallic shine, and appears to be an unbroken, capsule-shaped crystal. It features smooth, curved facets, a characteristic shared by all unbroken diamonds from the Crater of Diamonds.”
Diamond discoveries at the park have been brisk this year, mainly due to above-normal rainfall. "Rain, plus the regular plowing of the search field by our maintenance staff, increases visitors' chances of finding diamonds in the search area," Cox said.
The park does not offer valuation on gems, but does offer the history of some previous rare finds. The largest rough diamond ever discovered at Crater of Diamonds (and the largest ever found in the United States) is the Uncle Sam Diamond, weighing in at a whopping 40.23 carats. Found in 1924, the Uncle Sam Diamond was faceted twice into a 12.42-carat gem that sold for $150,000 in 1971.
Oskarson and boyfriend Travis Dillon had found the park on a highway map while visiting nearby Hot Springs, and decided on a whim to visit. It turned out to be their lucky day. Oskarson named her precious find the “Esperanza Diamond” – her niece's name and also the Spanish word for "hope."
Images: Courtesy of Crater of Diamonds State Park