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Missouri Man Digs up 2.05-carat Brown Gem at Arkansas's Crater of Diamonds

Names it “Flint Hill Special,” after his home town.
Steve Vehige of Flint Hill, Missouri, holds his 2.05-carat Flint Hill Special diamond.
Steve Vehige of Flint Hill, Missouri, holds his 2.05-carat Flint Hill Special diamond.
Steve Vehige of Flint Hill, Missouri, with his brown diamond he named the Flint Hill Special.
Steve Vehige of Flint Hill, Missouri, with his brown diamond he named the Flint Hill Special.
MURFREESBORO, AR (News Release) - Steve Vehige, a carpenter from Flint Hill, Missouri, was on his fourth trip to visit the Arkansas diamond site, the Crater of Diamonds State Park, when he started his diamond collection with a beautiful 2.05-carat, marble-shaped brown diamond. He immediately knew that he wanted to name his lovely diamond about the color of sweet tea for his home town and for Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs’ first song, “Flint Hill Special,” featured on their 1957 first album, “Foggy Mountain Jamboree.”

Vehige had visited the diamond site only three other times, but he had known about it for a long time. He and his 17-year-old son came down on Thursday and endured the day-long five inches of rain that turned the 37 ½-acre diamond search area into a muddy field on Friday. At about 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Vehige was chatting with another visitor when she wondered aloud what diamonds look like. Vehige replied, “Like that right there!” and picked up his beautiful shiny stone.

Vehige was not the only park visitor to find a pretty diamond Saturday. Two other visitors picked up their own surface finds, a 33-point white diamond and a 58-point canary yellow gem. These finds were no surprise to Park Interpreter Margi Jenks. She noted that eight inches of rain had fallen at the park in the past week, bringing July’s total up to almost 10 inches. “I had wondered earlier in the day if we might have some diamonds turned in that were surface finds.” She continued, “Diamonds are a bit heavy for their size, and so they stay put when it rains and the dirt surrounding and covering the diamonds washes away. I knew from past experience that Saturday’s sunny skies would probably result in some nice diamond finds.”

Visitors have found a total of 327 diamonds so far this year at the park. The Flint Hill Special is the third diamond weighing over two carats found in 2013. Even more surprising is that all three of those large diamonds are brown in color. Jenks said, “Brown diamonds are the most difficult to find in the dark dirt here. White diamonds are the most common diamonds registered, with yellow and brown diamonds about even in numbers.” She noted that in 2012, of the 530 total diamonds found, 131 diamonds were brown and 100 yellow in color. The Flint Hill Special diamond is also the eleventh weighing over one carat found this year.

The search area at the Crater of Diamonds is a 37 ½-acre plowed field that is the eroded surface of the eighth largest diamond-bearing deposit in the world, in surface area. It is the world’s only diamond-producing site open to the public. On average, two diamonds are found each day at the park. The park’s policy is finder-keepers. What park visitors find is theirs to keep. The park staff provides free identification and registration of diamonds. Park interpretive programs and exhibits explain the site’s geology and history and offer tips on recognizing diamonds in the rough.

Other semi-precious gems and minerals found in the park’s search area include amethyst, garnet, peridot, jasper, agate, calcite, barite, and quartz. Over 40 different rocks and minerals are unearthed at the Crater making it a rock hound's delight.

In total, over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at Arkansas’s diamond site since the first diamonds found in 1906 by John Huddleston, the farmer who at that time owned the land, long before the site became an Arkansas state park. 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. Other large notable finds from the Crater include the Amarillo Starlight, a 16.37-carat white diamond discovered in 1975, and the Star of Shreveport, an 8.82-carat white gem unearthed in 1981. In 2011, an 8.66-carat white diamond named the Illusion Diamond became the third-largest gem registered at the Crater of Diamonds State Park since 1972.

Another notable diamond from the Crater of Diamonds that has received much national attention is the 1.09-carat D-flawless Strawn-Wagner Diamond. Discovered in 1990 by Shirley Strawn of Murfreesboro, this white gem weighed 3.03 carats in the rough before being cut to perfection in 1997 by the renowned diamond firm Lazare Kaplan International of New York. The gem is the most perfect diamond ever certified in the laboratory of the American Gem Society. It is on display in a special exhibit in the Crater of Diamonds State Park visitor center.

Another gem from the Crater is the flawless 4.25-carat Kahn Canary diamond that was discovered at the park in 1977. This uncut, triangular-shape gem has been on exhibit at many cities around the U.S. and overseas. It was featured in an illustrious jewelry exhibition in Antwerp, Belgium in 1997 that included precious stones from throughout the world including the Kremlin collection, the Vatican, Cartier and Christies. And, in late 1997, the Kahn Canary was featured in another prestigious exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York entitled “The Nature of Diamonds.” Former First Lady Hillary Clinton borrowed the Kahn Canary from its owner, Stan Kahn of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and wore it in a special, Arkansas-inspired ring setting designed by Henry Dunay of New York. Mrs. Clinton chose to wear the gem as a special way to represent Arkansas’s diamond site at the galas celebrating both of Bill Clinton’s presidential inaugurals.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is located on Ark. 301 at Murfreesboro.
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