Of the 227 diamonds found and registered this year at Arkansas' Crater of Diamonds State Park, one far surpasses them all. At 8.52 carats, this diamond found by Bobbie Oskarson of Longmont, Colo., on June 24, is the fifth-largest ever uncovered at the park.
Oskarson's diamond is a white, glittering, icicle-shaped stone, about half the size of a quarter. It was a lucky day for her when she saw Crater of Diamonds park on a map while in nearby Hot Springs and decided to stop by. She was digging in an area of the park known as the Pig Pen, a muddy stretch of field, when she turned over what she thought to be quartz. A park staffer later confirmed it was a diamond and a big one at that. Oskarson named the gem the "Esperanza Diamond", after her niece. She plans to keep it.
Since the first diamond was found in 1906, more than 75,000 have been discovered in one of the only diamond-producing sites in the world open to the public. The largest, and the largest ever discovered in the U.S., is the Uncle Sam Diamond, found in 1924 and weighing 40.23 carats. Located in Murfreesboro, Ark., Crater of Diamonds encourages visitors to hunt for gems and institutes a finders-keepers policy; so you keep whatever you find. Fields are regularly plowed and turned over to increase visitors' chances of finding a gem.
There's no estimate on the value of the Esperanza Diamond, but for comparison, the Uncle Sam Diamond, cut at 12.42 carats, was sold for $150,000 in 1971 (or about $880,000 today).