Two large diamond finds Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro were recently confirmed by the state.
"This unique park is one of our state's most popular destinations," Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, said in a news release. "It's always exciting for one of our guests to find a gem, and the staff is really great at working with them to confirm what they have found and hear each particular story of how they found it."
Dr. Mindy Pomtree, of Benton, was at the park in June and found her diamond near Beatty's Hill when she spotted a glittering pebble on top of the ground. She put the stone in a zippered pocket and continued searching, not knowing what it was. "I kept feeling of my pocket throughout the day to make sure it was still there. I didn't know if it was a diamond but thought it looked cool, and it was definitely shiny!"
When she returned home, Pomtree took the stone to a jeweler who confirmed that she had indeed found a diamond. Park Superintendent Caleb Howell arranged for her to return to the park to have it weighed and registered. "Howell confirmed that it is one of the biggest diamond finds during his tenure at the park. The diamond weighs 6.39 carats and is about the size of a pumpkin seed," the release said.
Park Interpreter Waymon Cox noted that many of the park's large diamonds tend to be found on the surface. "Diamonds are a bit heavy for their size. When it rains, runoff washes away small rocks and minerals and sometimes uncovers larger diamonds, such as Dr. Pomtree's. Diamonds have a natural metallic shine and are often easy to see on top of the ground. All it takes is being in the right place at just the right time to find one!"
Many visitors choose to name the diamonds they find at the Crater of Diamonds. Pomtree chose to name her gem Serendipity, noting that she was lucky to have found it. "I did a little research on how to find diamonds beforehand, but it turned out to be a walk that resulted in my find," she said in the release.
"Crater of Diamonds State Park is such a unique experience for our visitors," Arkansas State Parks Director Grady Spann said. "Guests have made lifetime memories hunting for diamonds. If they're fortunate to find a diamond, it really makes the visit unforgettable and one that they will share for many years."
The other large find was by William "David" Dempsey of Athens, Ala., who first learned about Arkansas' diamond site from his fourth-grade teacher. "I've been wanting to visit for more than 30 years," Dempsey said in the release. "Recent news stories about the park brought it back to my attention, so we planned a trip."
Dempsey was wet sifting with his youngest daughter when he found the diamond. "I was running my finger through some gravel I had just sifted, and the diamond popped right out. My son had come over to tell me lunch was ready, and he saw it at the same time I did."
"Mr. Dempsey's diamond has a very clear, water-white appearance. It has a beautiful rounded shape and a brilliant shine. It reminds me of many other large, white diamonds that have been found here and is absolutely stunning to see," Cox said. Dempsey's diamond was found near where another large white diamond, the Strawn-Wagner, was discovered in 1990.
Dempsey named his gem the Dempsey-Ducharme Diamond, as a tribute to his family's "unforgettable experience" at the park. He plans to have the diamond examined and appraised before deciding whether to keep or sell it.
In total, over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at the Crater of Diamonds since the first diamonds were discovered in 1906 by John Huddleston, a farmer who owned the land long before it became an Arkansas State Park in 1972.
The largest diamond ever discovered in the United States was unearthed there in 1924 during an early mining operation. Named the Uncle Sam, this white diamond with a pink cast weighed 40.23 carats. It was later cut into a 12.42-carat emerald shape and purchased by a private collector for $150,000 in 1971, the release said.
Typically, one or two diamonds are found there each day. So far, 171 diamonds have been registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park in 2020, weighing more than 35 carats; six diamonds registered this year have weighed at least one carat each.
Admission to the park's diamond search area is currently limited to 800 tickets per day, due to COVID-19 restrictions. Visitors are asked to purchase tickets in advance at http://www.CraterofDiamondsStatePark.com, to ensure access.