After many years of searching, 65-year-old Pat Choate finally captured her "Illusive Dream" last Tuesday at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Ark.
The 3.29-carat brandy-colored gem is the third-largest diamond discovered this year at the 37½-acre search field, which is actually the eroded surface of an ancient diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe. Amateur miners get to keep what they find at the only diamond site in the world that’s open to the general public.
Originally from the Murfreesboro area, Choate and her husband, John, have been frequent visitors to Arkansas' Crater of Diamonds State Park, where they've discovered five diamonds over the years. Tuesday's find was, by far, the biggest and most exciting.
“It has been a long time coming," said Choate. "A lot of dirt and many years of searching — and I thank the good Lord for it! I know it’s not a perfect diamond, but it sure is a thrill!”
Choate named her diamond "Illusive Dream."
The park's assistant superintendent, Meghan Moore, said that Choate's diamond is about the size of a chickpea, with a sparkling metallic luster and a beautiful hue similar to brandy.
"Like many larger diamonds from the park," she said, "it appears to be fractured and contains a few inclusions, which gives it a unique appearance.”
Choate and her husband now live in Jacksonville, Ark., and decided to take the two-hour drive to Murfreesboro when the summer-like heatwave gave way to cooler temperates last week.
Said John Choate, “Each time Pat and I see the road sign for the Crater of Diamonds while driving to the park, we always tell each other, ‘Let’s be like some of these other tourists and find a diamond within 30 minutes.’ We’ve been saying that for years, but this time it actually happened to us!”
The couple was fortunate to visit just after an excavating company was contracted by the park to complete a deep plowing project to churn up previously untouched diamond-bearing material. Rainfall early in the week washed away loose soil from the surface, and that likely exposed Choate's diamond.
Choate and her husband entered the search area on Canary Hill in the southwest part of the site at 2 p.m. and scored her diamond about 30 minutes later.
“I saw something shiny several feet ahead of me and walked over to see what it was," Choate said. "I lost sight of it when I got close, but then I turned around and found the diamond lying beside me!”
Choate is planning the keep the gem in its rough form as a reminder of the wonderful memories she's shared with her husband during their many visits to the park.
So far this year, 426 diamonds have been registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park, weighing a total of 84 carats. Fifteen of those diamonds weighed more than 1 carat each.
Credits: Images courtesy of Arkansas State Parks.