Discovery made during cross-country gemstone quest
(MURFREESBORO, Ark.) – It’s thrilling when hard work pays off. For years, 26-year-old Christian Liden, of Poulsbo, Wash., has wanted to find the raw materials to make his own engagement ring. He started by panning for gold around his home state. After five years, he had accumulated enough for the ring. Liden recently embarked on a mining excursion that led him across the country to Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park to collect gemstones for his creation.
Liden and a longtime friend left Washington on May 1. They built their own mining equipment to search with and tested it at a Montana sapphire mine along the way. The friends arrived at Arkansas’s diamond site late on Friday, May 7. “We spent about an hour in the field that afternoon and returned early the next morning to mine all day,” Liden said.
On his third day at the Crater of Diamonds, Liden was wet sifting when he finally spotted what he had traveled more than 2,000 miles in search of. “I saw it shining as soon as I turned the screen over and immediately knew it was a diamond. I was shaking so bad, I asked my buddy to grab it out of the gravel for me!” Liden placed the gem in a plastic bag and carried it to the park’s Diamond Discovery Center, where staff confirmed he had found a large, yellow diamond.
“I love hearing each story of how a visitor to Crater of Diamonds State Park finds a significant diamond,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism. “It’s a moment they’ll never forget, and it’s always exciting that our park gets to be a part of that.”
Weighing 2.20 carats, Liden’s diamond is the largest found at the park since last October, when a visitor from Fayetteville, Ark. discovered a 4.49-carat yellow diamond. He found it in dirt from the West Drain of the park’s 37.5-acre diamond search area, the surface of an ancient, diamond-bearing volcanic pipe.
According to Assistant Superintendent Dru Edmonds, “Mr. Liden’s diamond is light yellow, with a triangular shape and a sparkling, metallic luster. Like most diamonds from the park, it contains a few inclusions, making it one-of-a-kind.”
“As beautiful as this diamond is, I think the best part is the story behind it,” Edmonds continued. “Since the eighth grade, Mr. Liden has dreamed of creating a special ring for his future wife, with stones and gold he mined, himself. And now he can make that dream come true!”
Though he’s found other gemstones, Liden was surprised by his success at the Crater of Diamonds. “I was just hoping to find a couple smaller stones and had planned to buy a center stone later, but that won’t be needed now!”
After leaving the Crater of Diamonds, Liden plans to mine for opals in Nevada before returning home. Once he proposes, Liden says he wants to design an engagement ring with his bride-to-be using his diamond and other gemstones collected along his cross-country mining quest.
Finders of large Crater diamonds often choose to name their gems. Liden has named his diamond the Washington Sunshine, “because it’s got a nice, light yellow color, just like sunlight in Washington.”
As of this publication, 121 diamonds have been registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park in 2021, weighing more than 20 carats. An average of one to two diamonds are found by park visitors each day.
Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow. The three colors found at Crater of Diamonds State Park are white, brown, and yellow, in that order.
Admission to the park’s diamond search area is currently limited to 1,500 tickets per day. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance at CraterofDiamondsStatePark.com, to ensure access.
Quick Facts about Crater of Diamonds State Park
Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow. The three most common colors found at Crater of Diamonds State Park are white, brown, and yellow, in that order.
In total, over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at the Crater of Diamonds since the first diamonds were discovered in 1906 by John Huddleston, a farmer who owned the land long before it became an Arkansas State Park in 1972.
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. It was later cut into a 12.42-carat emerald shape and purchased by a private collector for $150,000 in 1971.
Another well-known diamond from the park is the Strawn-Wagner. Found in 1990 by Murfreesboro resident Shirley Strawn, this 3.03-carat white gem was cut into a round brilliant shape weighing 1.09 carats. It graded as ideal cut, D-colorless, and flawless and was set in a platinum and 24-carat gold ring. In 1998 the State of Arkansas purchased this diamond for $34,700 in donations and placed it on permanent display at the park visitor center.
On Labor Day 2020, Kevin Kinard, of Maumelle, Ark., found a large, brown gem weighing 9.07 carats. It is the second-largest diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park.
Crater of Diamonds State Park is located on Arkansas Highway 301 in Murfreesboro. It is one of 52 state parks administered by Arkansas State Parks, a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism.
About Arkansas State Parks Arkansas State Parks is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism. Arkansas state parks and museums cover 54,400 acres of forest, wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation facilities, and unique historic and cultural resources. The system includes 1,100 buildings (including 183 historic structures), six National Historic Landmarks, a National Natural Landmark, 16 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, and War Memorial Stadium.
The state parks have 1,800 campsites, 1,050 picnic sites, 208 cabins, five lodges, and 415 miles of trails. Eight million visitors annually come from all regions of the country. Park staffs provide over 42,000 education programs, activities, and special events to more than 700,000 participants each year. Established in 1923, Arkansas State Parks preserve special places for future generations, provide quality recreation and education opportunities, enhance the state’s economy through tourism, and provide leadership in resource conservation. Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and visit ArkansasStateParks.com and ArkansasStateParks.com/media to learn more about everything we have to offer.