What began as a trip to pan for gold in Salida, Colorado turned into a much more lucrative surprise detour to Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro, Arkansas, the only state park where the finders can unquestioningly keep any diamonds that they find. When Mike Burns of Arab, Alabama, a retired truck driver who now works for Lowe’s, set out with his friend Craig “Arkansas” Wilds, it was to go to Colorado to look for gold. Finding that the property owner there was unavailable, he called his wife, Linda.
Three weeks before the trip, Linda reminded her husband that their 20th anniversary was coming up on May 27, and she’d love a diamond for her gold wedding band. She mentioned this conversation when he called from Colorado, and suggested that he head for Crater of Diamonds. During their original exchange, Mike Burns had told his wife that “she’d better get her rear to Arkansas and start digging.”
Instead, he found himself on Tuesday morning, walking along a creek in Arkansas and looking at the wet banks, remembering that mud doesn’t stick to diamonds. Spotting something shiny, he picked it up and went to the park office for confirmation that he had, indeed, found a diamond. Margi Jenks, a park interpreter, weighed and examined the diamond, telling him that it was 5.75-carat clear diamond with some inclusions(The Arab Tribune). While it is still unknown what the diamond will appraise for, a 2-carat diamond found last year—after being cut and set—is valued at $22,000. Crater of Diamonds State Park provides free identification and certification of the diamonds found there.
Burns named his find ‘The Arabian Knight’, after his high school alma mater. Whether or not he’ll be keeping it or giving it to his wife is the only question. The couple says that hunting for gold and gems has become a fun hobby for them. In North Carolina, they found enough rubies to make Linda a necklace and earrings, with enough stones left over to make earrings for her daughter, daughter-in-law, and seven grandchildren. Linda hinted that a new wedding band would be nice with a few of those rubies and, of course, a diamond.
Since the Crater became a state park, over 28,000 diamonds have been found. The largest was the 16.37-carat gem-quality white “Amarillo Starlight”, found by WW Johnson of Amarillo, Texas. The most flawless diamond found there is a 1.09-carat D-flawless diamond called the “Strawn-Wagner” Diamond. It was discovered in 1990 by Murfreesboro resident Shirley Strawn and weighed 3.03 carats in the rough. It was cut to perfection in 1997 by Lazare Kaplan International in New York, and is the most perfect diamond ever certified in the laboratory of the American Gem Society.
Also found at Crater of Diamond State Park are amethyst, garnet, peridot, quartz, barite, agate, jasper, and calcite.
After Mike Burns had his find certified, he called his wife so she didn’t first hear it on the news. She told him it would make a good anniversary present, and he told her that the diamond would be great for his birthday.
Linda’s response? “You’d better go out and find you one.”