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Big Diamonds Found in Africa—and Arkansas

Diamonds
By Rob Bates, News Director
This story appears in the June 2006 issue of JCK magazine
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Two surprisingly large diamond finds have taken place—one in South Africa, and the other closer to home.

A yellowish 235 ct. diamond was recently discovered at the Schmidtsdrift diamond mine in South Africa. The octahedral gem is said to be of “very good” quality. In an interview on South African radio, David Lenigas, of mine owner Nare Diamonds, said it was “the size of a small egg,” but he didn’t know its value yet.

“A big diamond like that’s like a piece of art,” he said. “You really don’t know until we get the valuations out in the next couple of weeks … but it will certainly be in the tune of a couple of million U.S. dollars.”

The episode shows the unpredictable nature of diamond mining. The Schmidtsdrift is a small mine that was shut down three years ago and had been back in production for only a few weeks when the big stone was found.

“If you’re lucky, you’re lucky,” Lenigas said. “I wish I was that lucky all the time.”

Not quite as fortunate—but likely just as welcome—are two recent finds at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Ark., the only diamond mine in the world available for public exploration.

First, state trooper Marvin Culver found a flawless 4.21 ct., canary yellow diamond in the park. Culver, based in Norman, Okla., had been planning to visit the Crater for some time and was spurred into going after seeing a program on The Travel Channel titled America’s Best Places to Find Cash and Treasures.

Culver’s stone, which he dubbed The Okie-Dokie Diamond after his home state, is described as the size of a peanut M&M. When asked his plans for the stone, he said, “My wife has already seized it. You’ll have to ask her.”

About a month later, Jennifer Jones of Derby, Kan., and her son, Jacob Ballard, found a 2.12 ct. gem at the park near an old mine shaft building. Jones found the stone after her son tossed a rock and it knocked some dirt off the top of a mound of soil.

The light yellow, oval diamond was described in a park release as “nearly flawless.”

Neither big find approaches the size of the biggest diamond found in the park so far—the white 16.37 ct. Amarillo Starlight, discovered by W.W. Johnson of Amarillo, Texas, in 1975.

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