Christian Liden has nurtured a dream since 8th grade: to one day create an engagement ring for his future wife out of materials he himself mined. It was this dream that propelled him to Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park where he discovered a 2.20 carat yellow diamond—especially precious.
Liden, 26, made the 2,000-mile trip from Poulsbo, Washington, with a friend. They arrived on May 7, armed with mining equipment they had built themselves, and spent an hour wet sifting for diamonds before retiring for the night.
Liden made his remarkable discovery on day 3 of the trip.
“I saw it shining as soon as I turned the screen over and immediately knew it was a diamond,” Liden explained in an Arkansas State Parks news release. “I was shaking so bad, I asked my buddy to grab it out of the gravel for me!”
The park’s Diamond Discovery Center confirmed that the gem was a large yellow diamond weighing 2.20 carats—the largest unearthed at the park since October 2020.
Liden had only had hopes of finding a couple of smaller stones; he had planned to buy a center stone at a later date, but as he explained, “that won’t be needed now.”
Keeping with tradition, Liden picked a name for his gemstone, “Washington Sunshine,” explaining that the stone’s warm yellow hue emulates the sunlight in his home state of Washington.
While he hasn’t yet proposed, Liden is well ahead of schedule on the ring-crafting front. Over the course of five years, he’s already panned enough gold for the band, and found his first gem at a sapphire mine in Montana while testing equipment with his friend, reports Patch.
After leaving Crater victorious, Liden planned to mine for opals next in Nevada before returning home to Poulsbo.
He eventually hopes to design the ring with input from his future bride-to-be.
Crater’s assistant superintendent, Dru Edmonds, was touched by Liden’s ambition. “I think the best part is the story behind it,” he said. “Mr. Liden has dreamed of creating a special ring for his future wife, with stones and gold he mined himself, and now he can make that dream come true!”
Edmonds described Liden’s yellow diamond as triangular with a “sparkling, metallic luster.” Like most gathered from the park, it contains a few “inclusions,” he added, making it one-of-a-kind.
Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism, said she loves hearing visitors’ stories of unearthing precious gems. “It’s a moment they’ll never forget, and it’s always exciting that our park gets to be a part of that,” she said.
At the time of writing, Crater of Diamonds State Park has recorded 121 diamond discoveries in 2021 so far, totaling over 20 carats. The very first diamonds at the locale were discovered by farmer and landowner John Huddleston in 1906. The land became an Arkansas State Park in 1972.
One or two gems are unearthed every single day, and while diamonds come in all colors, Crater’s diamonds are white, brown, and yellow.