A successful diamond miner needs patience and perseverance.

MURFREESBORO — A successful diamond miner needs patience and perseverance.  Steve Crutchfield, a 56-year-old carpenter from Friendship knows this after having visited Arkansas’s diamond site, the Crater of Diamonds State Park, more than 20 times over the past three months.  On his 27th visit Friday morning, his persistence paid off with the discovery of a stunning 2.44-carat brown diamond.  The brandy-colored gem is the size of a piece of Chicklet gum, with a flat marquis shape and a frozen metallic shine.
Crutchfield had been wet sifting material from the East Drain of the park’s 37 1/2-acre diamond search area for about three-and-a-half hours when he discovered the diamond in his large-mesh screen.  He showed it to his partner and other miners around him and then brought it to the Diamond Discovery Center in a vial for certification by park staff.
According to Crutchfield, the park’s “regular” diamond miners helped him learn how to search:  “I had visited years ago and came back in August to mine again, and after talking to and getting help from several of the regulars, I decided to start wet sifting.”
The decision to wet sift has paid off more than once for Crutchfield and his partner.  Since August they have unearthed three other diamonds, including a white one weighing nearly one-third of a carat, but this is Crutchfield’s largest find, so far.
Crutchfield named his gem the Hatfield Diamond, after his nickname.  When asked if he plans to sell his diamond, Crutchfield replied that he may consider it in the future, but he wants to keep it for now.
Park Interpreter Waymon Cox said, “This is one of the most beautiful brown diamonds I’ve seen this year.  It has such a smooth surface and appears to be nearly flawless.  Mr. Crutchfield could easily have it mounted in a ring or pendant just as it is!”
According to Cox, “This is the first diamond of significant size found since the park completed a trenching project in mid-October in the East Drain of the diamond search area.” Since 2005, Crater of Diamonds State Park has contracted each year for excavation work by heavy machinery.  These projects uncover new material for park visitors to search by digging trenches and spreading excavated material on the ground nearby, increasing the chance for diamond finds.
Cox noted that of the 530 diamonds certified so far in 2010, Mr. Crutchfield’s is the fifth-largest.  On February 18, Arkansan Glenn Worthington discovered another large brown diamond, a 2.13-carat gem he named the Brown Rice Diamond.  Prior to Crutchfield’s find, Angela Vickers of Texas found a 2.93-carat yellow diamond while surface hunting near the East Drain in late July.  She named her diamond God’s Blessing.  In mid-April, Mack Evans of Missouri discovered the largest diamond so far this year, a white gem weighing 4.89 carats he named the Ghost Diamond.
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 to three 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 three most common 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.
In total, over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at Arkansas’s diamond site since the first diamonds found in 1906 by John Huddleston, the farmer who at that time owned the land, long before the site became an Arkansas state park.  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 Arkansas (15.33 carats) and the Gary Moore (6.43 carats).
The largest diamond of the 27,000 discovered by park visitors since the Crater 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 will once again be on display in a special exhibit in the Crater of Diamonds State Park visitor center when the building’s current remodeling project is completed.

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