A visitor to Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park made a 9.07-carat discovery — the second-largest diamond found in the park’s history.
Kevin Kinard, 33, a bank branch manager from Maumelle, Arkansas, was visiting the park on Labor Day when he found the massive gem, according to Arkansas State Parks. A regular visitor to the park since a second grade field trip, this was the first time Kinard had discovered a diamond.
While searching for stones with friends, Kinard pocketed a marble-sized crystal with a round, dimpled shape.
“It kind of looked interesting and shiny, so I put it in my bag and kept searching,” he said. “I just thought it might’ve been glass.”
Kinard almost didn’t have his gem checked, but he changed his mind when his friends stopped by the park’s Diamond Discovery Center to have their finds evaluated.
A park employee identified Kinard’s other rocks and minerals, but took this particular gem into the office for further study. Then Kinard was taken into the office and told he had found a diamond weighing more than nine carats.
“I honestly teared up when they told me. I was in complete shock,” he said.
Park officials said that Kinard’s discovery is the second-largest diamond that has been found since Crater of Diamonds became an Arkansas state park in 1972. The only larger diamond was a 16.37-carat white Amarillo Starlight discovered in August 1975.
“Congratulations to Mr. Kinard on finding this impressive diamond — the second largest found at the park since 1972,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “A find like this is always thrilling for the park guest, as well as the park staff, who get to help identify the gem and share in the excitement.”
“Most visitors to the Crater of Diamonds enjoy a leisurely experience and don’t take diamond searching too seriously,” a park employee tells Treehugger. “However, a few dozen people visit fairly regularly, often bringing specialty mining tools and spending a week or more at the park. These people work hard and find many diamonds, but it is often someone visiting for the first time who finds large diamonds here.”
People often name their gem discoveries and Kinard chose to honor his friends, calling it the Kinard Friendship Diamond. “We love to travel together and had such a great time out here. It was a very humbling experience,” he said.
More than 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at Crater of Diamonds since the first gems were discovered in 1906 by a farmer who owned the land long before it became a state park. An average of one to two diamonds are now found by visitors each day.
But even for those who don’t come seeking gemstones, there’s plenty of other treasures to discover. “In addition to diamond searching, the park also boasts three nature trails,” the park tells us, affording glimpses of wildlife, unique geological features, and views of the pine and hardwood forests of Southwest Arkansas.