After a coworker told him that he could actually mine for diamonds in a state park in Arkansas, he hatched a plan to go on a cross-country road trip to Crater of Diamonds State Park.
Christian Liden even made some mining tools to take on the trip and watched many YouTube videos about how to find gemstones in the park—and he did everything in secret so his girlfriend wouldn’t find out.
Accompanied by a longtime buddy, he left Poulsbo, Washington on May 1. Along the way they tested their equipment at a Montana sapphire mine, before arriving at the Arkansas diamond site six days later.
On his third day of full-time mining in the 37-acre diamond search zone at Crater of Diamonds, Liden was wet sifting when he spotted it.
He immediately knew it was the prize that he had traveled more than 2,000 miles for—the gemstone to adorn the engagement ring he would present to his girlfriend, Desirae, after two years of dating.
“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.
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Weighing 2.20 carats, Liden’s diamond is the largest found at the park since last October, when a visitor from Fayetteville discovered a 4.49-carat yellow diamond.
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.”
Liden told the staff he had already successfully mined enough gold to have a sufficient amount for the ring band—and now his quest was complete.
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“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!”
Liden plans to mine for opals in Nevada before returning home and wants to design an engagement ring alongside his bride-to-be using all the gemstones collected from his cross-country mining quest.
Finders of large Crater diamonds often choose to name their gems. Liden named his the Washington Sunshine, “because it’s got a nice, light yellow color, just like sunlight in Washington.”
Edmonds says an average of one to two diamonds are found by park visitors every day. In total, over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at the Crater of Diamonds since the first precious stones 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 found in the U.S. was unearthed here in 1924 during an early mining operation. Named the Uncle Sam, the white diamond with a pink cast weighed over 40 carats and was purchased by a private collector for $150,000 in 1971. Another well-known diamond, found by a local Murfreesboro resident in 1990, is on display at the park’s visitor center—a 3.03-carat white gem graded as ideal cut, D-colorless, and flawless.
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Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow, but the three most common colors at the Crater site are white, brown, and yellow, in that order.
Last year, before the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic hit, the second-largest brown diamond ever found at the Arkansas park was uncovered—weighing in at over 9-carats. Admission to the park’s diamond search area is currently limited to 1,500 tickets per day, and many are sold online at CraterofDiamondsStatePark.com.
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