Apr 28, 2011 1:32 PM by Greg Boyce
A Salida woman made an amazing find Monday at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. Beth Gilbertson has made a few trips to park to look for diamonds.
According to Park Superintendent Justin Dorsey, "Large diamonds continue to be found here at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Weighing 8.66 carats, this absolutely beautiful white diamond is the third largest diamond of the 27,000 diamonds found by park visitors since the Crater of Diamonds became an Arkansas state park in 1972." He said, "Ms. Gilbertson's diamond is only topped in size by the 16.37-carat Amarillo Starlight found in 1975 by park visitor W. W. Johnson of Amarillo, Texas, and the 8.82-carat Star of Shreveport found by Carroll Blankenship of Shreveport, Louisiana, in June 1981."
Dorsey said, "It has been almost 30 years since we've seen a diamond of this size found at the park. And, we are all so happy for Ms. Gilbertson. "
After seeing The Travel Channel's "The Best Places to Find Cash and Treasures" which includes a segment on the Crater of Diamonds, Gilbertson became a regular visitor at the park. On Monday, she was scraping gravel out of a drainage ditch on the Beatty's Hill portion of the
park's 37 ½-acre search area and discovered the diamond while wet sifting buckets of dirt at the north washing pavilion while also helping two other visitors learn how to search. Thrilled that her efforts paid off in such a big way, Gilbertson said, "I'd collected four buckets of dirt for me to search and two for the other visitors. The diamond ended up being in one of my buckets."
She said, "I've found other diamonds at the park, but when I first noticed this one, I couldn't quite believe that something that large could be a real diamond. I thought it was a piece of glass. So, I asked another visitor, this is a diamond, right?" Gilbertson continued, "I felt sure it was a diamond, but yet couldn't quite believe it." Because of this, she named her gem the Illusion Diamond.
According to Park Interpreter Waymon Cox, "The diamond is jaw-dropping. It's icy white with a metallic luster. And, it's a flat trapezoidal-shape crystal and the size of a nickel." It is the 196th diamond find at the park this year.
Crater of Diamonds State Park is located on Ark. 301 at Murfreesboro. It is one of the 52 state parks administered by the State Parks Division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.