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On Labor Day, Kevin Kinard, a 33-year-old bank branch manager from Maumelle, Ark., visited Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park and found the second-largest diamond found in the park’s history. Kinard has visited the Crater of Diamonds fairly regularly since first going there on a second-grade field trip, despite having never found a diamond. This trip was to turn out differently.
Kinard and his friends brought equipment with them to wet sift, but Kinard preferred surface searching. “I only wet sifted for about 10 minutes before I started walking up and down the plowed rows. Anything that looked like a crystal, I picked it up and put it in my bag.”
While searching in the southeast portion of the diamond search area, Kinard picked up a marble-sized crystal that had a rounded, dimpled shape. He said, “It kind of looked interesting and shiny, so I put it in my bag and kept searching. I just thought it might’ve been glass.”
The plowed soil of the park’s 37.5-acre diamond search area was fairly dry on Labor Day Monday, with temperatures in the low 90s. A few clouds provided occasional relief from the sun.
After a few hours of searching, Kinard and his friends stopped by the park’s Diamond Discovery Center, where park staff identifies visitor finds and register diamonds. Kinard said, “I almost didn’t have them check my finds, because I didn’t think I had found anything. My friend had hers checked, though, so I went ahead and had them check mine, too.”
An employee identified Kinard’s rocks and minerals but sat his rounded, dimpled find aside to carry into the office for closer examination. After a few minutes, park managers brought Kinard into the office and revealed that he had discovered a diamond weighing more than nine carats. “I honestly teared up when they told me. I was in complete shock!”
“Congratulations to Mr. Kinard on finding this impressive diamond – the second largest found at the park since 1972,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “A find like this is always thrilling for the park guest, as well as the park staff, who get to help identify the gem and share in the excitement.”
Weighing 9.07 carats, Kinard’s diamond is the second-largest found at the park since the Crater of Diamonds became an Arkansas state park in 1972. The only larger diamond found during that time is the 16.37-carat white Amarillo Starlight, discovered in August 1975.
“This latest diamond find is a testament to maintaining the diamond search area with a focus on sustaining the resource at Crater of Diamonds State Park, as well as creating the opportunity to find a diamond and make lifetime memories for all of our guests,” Arkansas State Parks Director Grady Spann said. “Not only for the 48 years we’ve managed the diamond mine but also for the next generations and beyond.”
Park Superintendent Caleb Howell said, “I always love to see the reactions and excitement of our visitors when they find large diamonds. When I met Mr. Kinard, it was immediately evident that he was shocked and speechless.”
After registering his diamond, Kinard took it home and spent a couple of weeks mentally processing his excitement. He returned to the park on September 23 to share his story.
According to Assistant Superintendent Dru Edmonds, “Mr. Kinard’s diamond is very large, with a brandy brown color. It has a rounded, dewdrop shape and a metallic shine typical of all Crater diamonds.”
Edmonds continued, “Conditions in the diamond search area were perfect for Mr. Kinard to find his diamond. Park staff plowed the search area on August 20, just a few days before Tropical Storm Laura dropped more than two inches of rain in the park. The sun was out when Mr. Kinard visited, and he walked just the right path to notice the sunlight reflecting off his diamond.”
Kinard also noted the significance of the date he found his diamond. “It weighs 9.07, and I found it on 9/7. I thought that was so unique!”
Finders of large Crater diamonds often name their gems. Kinard chose to honor his friends with the name of his diamond, calling it the Kinard Friendship Diamond. “We love to travel together and had such a great time out here. It was a very humbling experience.”
When asked what advice he would give other visitors, Kinard said, “Have the park staff check everything, because you never know. I would have never in a million years dreamed that I had found anything. Always have them check it!”
As of this publication, 246 diamonds have been registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park in 2020, weighing a total of 59.25 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.
The previous record for the second-largest diamond found at the park belongs to the 8.81-carat white Star of Shreveport, discovered in 1981 by Carroll Blankenship, of Shreveport, La.
Admission to the park’s diamond search area is currently limited to 1,000 tickets per day due to COVID-19 restrictions. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance at www.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.
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.