Blazing temperatures topping 100 degrees couldn't keep aspiring geologist and gem lover Grace Houston from uncovering the find of a lifetime during her family's vacation to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. On Saturday, the nine-year-old from Missouri landed a 1.53-carat diamond while wet-sifting with her grandma.
Despite a National Weather Service Heat Advisory, the determined young lady insisted on going back to the park for a second day of prospecting after the first day failed to yield the gemstone she so desperately wanted.
Houston's family had planned the trip to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro six months in advance, but decided to keep it a secret so the fledgling geologist would be surprised.
After finding the diamond, the young girl's elation nearly turned to disappointment when she fumbled her pea-sized precious discovery back into the soil. Never deterred, Houston went back to work and found it again.
Park interpreter Betty Coors snapped the reaction of Houston's mom (orange shirt) when she learned of her daughter's discovery.
Coors reported that Houston wants to keep the diamond in its natural state. When pressed about whether she would possible use it in an engagement ring when she was older, the youngster responded, "No! I would never put such a rare and special and precious thing into an expensive piece of jewelry!"
Hmmm. We think there's a fair chance she could change her mind.
Treasure hunters visit Crater of Diamonds State Park year round to try their luck at bagging a precious gem at the only diamond site in the world open to the general public.
Only last year, Bobbie Oskarson made international headlines when she found an icicle-shaped 8.52-carat diamond at the park. Dubbed the “Esperanza,” the rough diamond was eventually crafted into an elongated briolette by master cutter Mike Botha. He called the unique shape the "Esperanza Cut."
The entry fee to Crater of Diamonds State Park is a modest $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 6 to 12. Kids under 6 get in for free.
The 37½-acre search field in Murfreesboro, Ark., is actually the eroded surface of an ancient diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe.
The park maintains a generous finder’s keepers policy and even provides experts to help amateur prospectors identify what they’ve found. Besides diamonds, the search field often yields amethyst, garnet, peridot, jasper, agate, calcite, barite and quartz.
More than 75,000 diamonds have been pulled from the Murfreesboro site since farmer John Huddleston, who owned the land, found the first precious gems in 1906. The site became an Arkansas state park in 1972. The largest diamond ever discovered in the U.S. was unearthed here in 1924. Named the Uncle Sam, the white diamond with a pink cast weighed an astounding 40.23 carats.
Credits: Images by Betty Coors, Crater of Diamonds State Park.