|The Lucy Diamond discovered by Noreen Wredberg at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Arkansas State Parks.|
Finders Keepers! A Lucky Retiree Visited an Arkansas National Park and Discovered a 4.38-Carat, Jellybean-Sized Diamond
Noreen Wredberg and her husband, Michael, weren't really expecting to find anything at Arkansas' Crater of Diamonds State Park, she said, and she wasn't sure what she had found when she picked up a stone.
A Northern California couple found a 4.38-carat yellow diamond while visiting Arkansas, making it the biggest piece of bling found this year at a state park known for yielding the shiny stones.
Noreen and Michael Wredberg took a trip to two national parks in Arkansas last month, then decided on a whim to travel an hour south to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro. About 40 minutes into their walk, Noreen saw something sparkly on the ground.
"I didn't know it was a diamond then, but it was clean and shiny, so I picked it up," she told park officials, according to a news release. "We really didn't think we would find one, let alone something that big."
Since retiring in 2011, Noreen and her husband Michael have spent much of their leisure time traveling and visiting America’s National Parks. During a recent stop at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, Noreen realized that they were also close to another destination she had long wanted to visit, Crater of Diamonds State Park.
“I first saw the park featured on a TV show several years ago,” she said. “When I realized we weren’t too far away, I knew we had to come!”
“Arkansas is the only state in the country that has a diamond mine open to the public,” said Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism Secretary Stacy Hurst. “It’s such a unique experience and visitors make lifetime memories, whether or not they find a diamond. Of course, finding a diamond adds to the experience!”
The couple arrived at Crater of Diamonds on Thursday, September 23, a sunny-but-cool fall morning. She started to search in a shaded area near the mine entrance, but her husband suggested they venture farther out.
“It was cold in the shade that morning,” Michael said, “so I told Noreen that we should go to the middle of the field, where it was warmer.”
His suggestion paid off about 40 minutes later. She was walking just north of a central pathway in the search area when she spotted the sparkling gem on top of the ground.
She said, “I didn’t know it was a diamond then, but it was clean and shiny, so I picked it up!”
She gave the stone to her husband, who brought it to the park’s Diamond Discovery Center for identification. After examining the stone, park staff informed Michael that he was in possession of a very large yellow diamond.
Park Superintendent Caleb Howell said, “When I first saw this diamond under the microscope, I thought, ‘Wow, what a beautiful shape and color!’ Mrs. Wredberg’s diamond weighs more than four carats and is about the size of a jellybean, with a pear shape and a lemonade yellow color.”
Noreen was surprised and excited when park staff gave her the news a few minutes later, saying, “We really didn’t think we would find one, let alone something that big!”
Park Interpreter Waymon Cox says that many of the park’s largest diamonds are found right on top of the ground. “We plow the search area periodically to loosen the soil and promote natural erosion. Diamonds are somewhat heavy for their size and lack static electricity, so dirt doesn’t stick to them. When rain uncovers a larger diamond and the sun comes out, its reflective surface is often easy to see.”
Cox noted that weather conditions were perfect for Noreen to find her diamond. “Many visitors surface search for diamonds after a good rain. More than one inch of rain fell at the park between September 19 and 21. The soil had dried a little, and the sun was out when Mrs. Wredberg visited two days later. She was in just the right place to see her diamond sparkle in the morning sunlight!”
Weighing 4.38 carats, Noreen’s diamond is the largest found at the park since last October, when a visitor from Fayetteville, Ark., .
Finders of large Crater diamonds often choose to name their gems. Noreen named hers Lucy’s Diamond, for her husband’s kitten. “The name is sentimental to us. Lucy is mostly gray but has slight tints of yellow in her fur, similar to the light yellow of my diamond.”
Noreen isn’t sure what she will do with her diamond but says she might have it cut, depending on the quality. “I don’t even know what it’s worth yet. It’s all new to me!”
Park staff is not trained in diamond appraisals but offers resources to help finders decide what to do with their gems.
As of this publication, 258 diamonds have been registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park in 2021, weighing more than 46 carats in total. An average of one to two diamonds are found by park visitors each day.