After summer-like heat gave way to cooler temperatures this week, 65-year-old Pat Choate and her husband John made the two-hour drive from their home in Jacksonville, Arkansas to search for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro. Originally from the Murfreesboro area, the couple has visited Arkansas’s diamond site numerous times over the years and have found five diamonds, but Choate made her biggest discovery yet on Tuesday, October 22.
According to John Choate, “Each time Pat and I see the road sign for the Crater of Diamonds while driving to the park, we always tell each other, ‘Let’s be like some of these other tourists and find a diamond within 30 minutes.’ We’ve been saying that for years, but this time it actually happened to us!”
The couple entered the park’s 37.5-acre diamond search area around 2 p.m. Pat Choate had been surface searching on Canary Hill, in the southwest part of the search area, for about 30 minutes when she made her find. According to her, “I saw something shiny several feet ahead of me and walked over to see what it was. I lost sight of it when I got close, but then I turned around I found the diamond lying beside me!”
Choate says she knew she had found a diamond right away and showed it to a few other visitors who were nearby. She carried it in a pill bottle to show her husband before taking it to the park’s Diamond Discovery Center, where park staff registered it as a brown diamond weighing 3.29 carats.
According to Assistant Superintendent Meghan Moore, “Mrs. Choate’s diamond is about the size of a chickpea, with a sparkling metallic luster and a beautiful hue similar to brandy. Like many larger diamonds from the park, it appears to be fractured and contains a few inclusions, which gives it a unique appearance.”
Choate’s gem is the third-largest diamond found in 2019, so far. It is the largest brown gem found at the park in more than two years, since a teenager from Centerton, Arkansas discovered a 7.44-carat brown diamond in March 2017.
Park Interpreter Waymon Cox says, “This is the first large diamond found since Royce Walker Excavating, of Lockesburg, Arkansas, completed a deep plowing project in early October to reveal unsearched diamond-bearing material. Rainfall this week washed away loose soil from the surface and likely exposed Mrs. Choate’s diamond.”
Cox notes that Choate was in the right place at the right time to find her gem. “Diamonds have a brilliant, adamantine luster that is very noticeable. Mrs. Choate was in just the right spot for the diamond to catch her eye as it reflected the sun’s rays.”
Many people choose to name the diamonds they find at Crater of Diamonds State Park. Choate has named her gem Illusive Dream, saying, “It has been a long time coming, a lot of dirt, and many years of searching—and I thank the good Lord for it! I know it’s not a perfect diamond, but it sure is a thrill!” Choate says she plans on keeping her gem as a reminder of the memories she and her husband have made during their many visits to Crater of Diamonds State Park.
As of this writing, 426 diamonds have been registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park in 2019, weighing more than 84 carats.; 15 diamonds registered this year have weighed at least one carat each.
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.