A spur-of-the-moment detour led to a “really great adventure” for a Parisian visitor to the US. Julien Navas, who was visiting the US from France to witness the launch of the first US moon landing mission in decades from Cape Canaveral, Florida, also ventured to New Orleans, as reported by Kelly Murray for CNN.
Parisian visitor to the US. Julien Navas found a 7.46-carat brown diamond, the eighth-largest diamond found in the Crater of Diamonds since it became a state park in 1972. I Photo: Arkansas State Parks
Along the way, he 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, 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.”
Luckily for Navas, the park had received more than an inch of rain a few days before he arrived, so it was wet and muddy.
“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 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, the eighth-largest diamond found in the Crater of Diamonds since it became a state park in 1972. The stone is deep chocolate brown and rounded like a marble, about the size of a candy gumdrop.