An amateur Arkansas diamond hunter was in "complete shock" after learning that he unearthed a 9-carat gem at the Crater of Diamonds State Park.
Kevin Kinard, 33, has been diamond hunting as a hobby ever since a second-grade field trip to Crater of Diamonds, although he had never actually found one. However, on the dry, sunny day of Sept. 7, the veteran diamond hunter quickly hit the jackpot.
"I only wet sifted for about 10 minutes before I started walking up and down the plowed rows," Kinard said. "Anything that looked like a crystal, I picked it up and put it in my bag."
Thinking that his lucky find looked "interesting and shiny," Kinard pocketed the gem and kept searching.
"I just thought it might have been glass," he said.
As it turned out, the dimpled, semi-translucent brown gem was a 9.07-carat beauty, although its commercial value, if known, has not been revealed at the time of writing.
The find was identified and validated by experts at the on-site Diamond Discovery Center before Kinard and his group left the park, the statement said.
Kinder, a bank branch manager from Maumelle, decided to name his gem the "Kinard Friendship Diamond," owing to the fact that he was with friends when he found it. However, he said that he almost didn't have his haul evaluated.
"I didn’t think I had found anything," he said. "My friend had hers checked, though, so I went ahead and had them check mine, too ... I honestly teared up when they told me," he said of the experts' evaluation.
"I was in complete shock!"
Park Superintendent Caleb Howell, who was present on the day of the discovery, shared how much he enjoys this part of his job.
"I always love to see the reactions and excitement of our visitors when they find large diamonds," Howell said. "When I met Mr. Kinard, it was immediately evident that he was shocked and speechless."
A large dose of serendipity was noted by the diamond hunter, and by park staff, too.
Assistant Superintendent Dru Edmonds said in the statement that staff had plowed the search area on Aug. 20. Days later, Tropical Storm Laura dropped more than 2 inches of rain. The sun was out on September when Kinard happened to be walking "just the right path to notice the sunlight reflecting off his diamond."
Kinard also noticed another special detail that the weight of his diamond, 9.07 carats, matched the date when he discovered it. "I found it on 9/7," Kinard said. "I thought that was so unique!"
The largest diamond ever found at Crater of Diamonds, after the site became a state park in 1972, was a 16.37-carat nugget unearthed in August 1975. The white diamond, the statement noted, was named "Amarillo Starlight."
Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism, offered hearty congratulations to Kinard for his record-making discovery.
"A find like this is always thrilling for the park guest, as well as the park staff," Hurst said, "who get to help identify the gem and share in the excitement."