It took retiree Noreen Wredberg less than one hour to score the largest diamond of the year at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas.
The Granite Bay, CA, native spotted the 4.38-carat yellow diamond sitting on top of the ground in a plowed field that is actually the eroded surface of an extinct, diamond-bearing volcanic pipe. It is also the only public diamond mine where novice prospectors get to keep what they find.
She and her husband, Michael, had been touring Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas when they realized that the Crater of Diamonds State Park was only 60 miles away on US Route 70.
“I first saw the park featured on a TV show several years ago,” Noreen said. “When I realized we weren’t too far away, I knew we had to come!”
The couple arrived at Crater of Diamonds on Thursday, September 23, a sunny, but cool, fall morning. They started to search in a shaded area near the mine entrance, but her husband suggested they venture farther out to the middle of the field where it was sunnier and warmer.
His suggestion paid off about 40 minutes later when Noreen noticed the sparkling gem while walking just north of a central pathway of the search area.
“I didn’t know it was a diamond then," she said, "but it was clean and shiny, so I picked it up!”
The Wredbergs had timed their visit perfectly because it had rained heavily two days earlier.
“We plow the search area periodically to loosen the soil and promote natural erosion," said Park Interpreter Waymon Cox. "Diamonds are somewhat heavy for their size and lack static electricity, so dirt doesn’t stick to them. When rain uncovers a larger diamond and the sun comes out, its reflective surface is often easy to see.”
Michael brought his wife's find to the park’s Diamond Discovery Center for identification. After examining the stone, park staff informed Michael that he was in possession of a very large yellow diamond.
Park Superintendent Caleb Howell said, “When I first saw this diamond under the microscope, I thought, ‘Wow, what a beautiful shape and color!’ Mrs. Wredberg’s diamond weighs more than four carats and is about the size of a jellybean, with a pear shape and a lemonade yellow color.”
Noreen was surprised and excited when park staff gave her the news a few minutes later, saying, “We really didn’t think we would find one, let alone something that big!”
The Californians named their gem "Lucy's Diamond" in honor of their kitten, which is mostly grey in color with slight hints of yellow.
Noreen has yet to decide if the gem will stay in its natural state or be made into a faceted diamond.
“I don’t even know what it’s worth yet," she said. "It’s all new to me!”
As of this publication, 258 diamonds have been registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park in 2021, weighing more than 46 carats in total. Visitors have found more than 33,000 diamonds since the Crater of Diamonds opened as an Arkansas State Park in 1972.
Credits: Images courtesy of Arkansas State Parks.