A Colorado woman paid for her vacation — and then some — when she discovered an 8½-carat diamond at an Arkansas park where visitors can hunt for stones and keep what they find.
Bobbie Oskarson uncovered a raw, 8.52-carat white diamond last week at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, about 100 miles southwest of Little Rock.
Oskarson, of Longmont, Colo., had been looking in the 37-acre field of plowed earth for just 20 minutes when she spotted what she thought might be a piece of quartz. Park officials confirmed that the icicle-shaped stone, about three-quarters of an inch long, was indeed a diamond potentially worth thousands.
Park visitors pay an admission fee, and any gems they find are theirs. "It is finders keepers," park interpreter Waymon Cox said.
It's not yet known how much the gem might ultimately be worth.
"We don't put a value to any diamond found here," Cox said. "It would take a certified appraiser to determine the market value."
The largest diamond ever found in the park -- the 16.3 carat Amarillo Starlight -- was valued at $150,000 after its discovery in 1975. In today's dollars, that would be more than $600,000. Oskarson's is the fifth largest find at the park.
So far this year, about 30 diamonds have been unearthed at the park, which sits on the eroded top of a large diamond-bearing deposit. Frequent rains from spring into early summer have made searches easier, but also muddier.
"A lot of times, they're found on the surface after a big rain," Cox said.
Although most park visitors come to scour the soil in hopes of a valuable discovery, there are also hiking trails and a campground. During the summer months, visitors can also enjoy a water park and a restaurant.
Park admission is $8 for guests 13 and older and $5 for kids ages 6-12.