A man who was exploring an Arkansas state park recently came across an unbelievable discovery: a 9.07-carat diamond, making it the second-largest one ever found in the park's history.
Kevin Kinard said he didn't think much of the marble-sized crystal that he found while visiting Crater of Diamonds State Park on Labor Day, according to a press release from the park.
"It kind of looked interesting and shiny, so I put it in my bag and kept searching," he recalled. "I just thought it might’ve been glass."
But after taking it to the park's Diamond Discovery Center, where staff identify what visitors find and register diamonds, Kinard, 33, learned that what he thought was glass was actually a 9.07-carat diamond.
"I honestly teared up when they told me," shared Kinard, who is a resident of Maumelle and currently works as a bank branch manager. "I was in complete shock!"
Kinard said he had been regularly visiting the park ever since he first went there on a second-grade field trip. Despite frequent visits over the years, he never discovered a diamond.
During this trip, Kinard was joined by friends, who he noted brought equipment with them to wet sift. He, however, opted to do surface searching instead.
"I only wet sifted for about 10 minutes before I started walking up and down the plowed rows," Kinard said in the park's release. "Anything that looked like a crystal, I picked it up and put it in my bag."
After going through the park's 37.5-acre diamond search area for a few hours, the group decided to stop by the Discovery Center — but Kinard said he almost skipped out.
"I almost didn't have them check my finds, because I didn't think I had found anything," he explained. "My friend had hers checked, though, so I went ahead and had them check mine, too."
Upon inspection by an employee and park managers, Kinard learned that his crystal — described by the park's Assistant Superintendent Dru Edmonds as "very large, with a brandy brown color," and a "rounded, dewdrop shape and a metallic shine" — was actually a nine-carat diamond.
Park officials said the diamond is the second-largest one to be found at the park since it opened in 1972. The largest one was a 16.37-carat white Amarillo Starlight, discovered in August 1975, according to the press release.
While it is unclear how much the diamond is worth, the park said a 3.03-carat white gem found in 1990 was cut into 1.09 carats and eventually sold in 1998 for $34,700 — meaning Kinard's diamond is likely worth thousands more.
"Congratulations to Mr. Kinard on finding this impressive diamond – the second-largest found at the park since 1972," Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, said in a statement. "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."
"I always love to see the reactions and excitement of our visitors when they find large diamonds," added Park Superintendent Caleb Howell. "When I met Mr. Kinard, it was immediately evident that he was shocked and speechless."
Kinard eventually registered his diamond, naming it the "Kinard Friendship Diamond" in honor of his friends, and then went home to relish the moment. On Wednesday, he finally returned to the park to share his amazing story.
"It weighs 9.07, and I found it on 9/7. I thought that was so unique!" he said of the significance of his find, adding of the name, "[My friends and I] love to travel together and had such a great time out here. It was a very humbling experience."
For those who plan to visit the park in the future, Kinard has one piece of advice: "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!”
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