A spur-of-the-minute detour led to a “real great adventure” for a Parisian visitor to the United States.
Julien Navas, who was visiting the US from France to see the launch of the first US moon landing mission in decades from Cape Canaveral, Florida, also ventured to New Orleans. Along the way, learned about the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas, according to a news release from Arkansas State Parks.
Having panned for gold and searched for ammonite fossils before, and the park caught his interest.
On January 11, Navas arrived at the park, bought his ticket, and rented a basic diamond hunting kit, according to the news release.
“I got to the park around nine o’clock and started to dig,” Navas said in the release. “That is back-breaking work, so by the afternoon I was mainly looking on top of the ground for anything that stood out.”
Lucky for Navas, the park had received more than an inch of rain a few days before he arrived, so it was wet and muddy, the release said.
“As rain falls on the field, it washes away the dirt and uncovers heavy rocks, minerals and diamonds near the surface,” Assistant Park Superintendent Waymon Cox explained.
Many of the park’s biggest diamonds are found on the surface, Cox said, and the park periodically plows the 37.5 acre search area to loosen the soil and to promote natural erosion.
Eventually, Navas emerged at the park’s Diamond Discovery Center with his findings. There, he was told he had found a 7.46-carat brown diamond.
Navas said he was stunned, according to the release, and said all he could think about was telling his fiancé what he had found. The stone is deep chocolate brown and rounded like a marble, according to the release, and is about the size of a candy gumdrop.
Navas named his diamond the Carine Diamond, after his fiancé, and plans to have the stone divided into two diamonds, one to gift to his bride-to-be and the other for his daughter.
The Carine Diamond is the eighth-largest diamond found in the Crater of Diamonds since it became a state park in 1972, according to the news release. On average, park visitors find one or two diamonds there every day. The diamonds formed hundreds of millions of years ago, some 60 to 100 miles underground.
Geologists explained about 100 million years ago, there was a volcanic eruption, which carried the diamonds to the surface, according to the park’s website.
Navas called the park a “magical place, where the dream of finding a diamond can come true! It was a real great adventure.” Navas said he hopes to come back to the park with his daughter when she is older.
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