Christian Liden, 26, from Washington, knew from a young age that he wanted to craft an engagement ring for his future wife out of stones that he had found himself, and has spent the last few years mining for gems to be able to do so.
While the first two days of digging were unsuccessful, Liden got lucky on his third day, when he uncovered the 2.2-carat diamond, the largest diamond the park has seen this year.
According to Liden, he knew the stone was a diamond immediately after he turned the screen over and saw it shining, recalling how the moment had left him shaking.
“I saw it shining as soon as I turned the screen over and immediately knew it was a diamond,” he said. “Seeing the diamond took my breath away. It made me instantly start shaking, almost like a state of shock.”
To confirm that what he had found was indeed a diamond, Liden brought it to the park’s Diamond Discovery Center, where staff verified the find.
“Weighing 2.20 carats, Liden’s diamond is the largest found at the park since last October, when a visitor from Fayetteville, Arkansas discovered a 4.49-carat yellow diamond,” a representative for the park said, adding that Liden’s diamond is “light yellow, with a triangular shape and a sparkling, metallic luster,” and that, like most diamonds found in the park, it “contains a few inclusions, making it one-of-a-kind”.
According to Liden, he “never expected anything like that,” telling CNN: “I was just hoping to find one - just one small one - just so I could put it on the ring and say ‘hey, I mined that diamond out.’”
After the impressive find, Liden journeyed to Nevada to mine for opals, before making his way home to propose to his girlfriend of five-and-a-half years, Desirae, who said yes.
As for the ring, Liden said he and his future wife plan to design it together using the stones he mined, once they find a jeweller.
He also noted that he won’t have to buy a centre stone, as he had originally planned, now that he has the large yellow diamond that he found himself.
“I was just hoping to find a couple smaller stones and had planned to buy a centre stone later, but that won’t be needed now,” he said.
While Liden does not yet know how much the diamond is worth, yellow diamonds can cost “anywhere from $2,500 per carat to $20,000 or more per carat, depending on a number of factors,” according to The Diamond Pro.
Crater of Diamonds State Park is a 911-acre state park located in Pike County, Arkansas, where visitors can mine for diamonds. According to the website, it is “one of the only diamond-producing sites in the world where the public can search for diamonds in their original volcanic source”.
Previous finds at the site have included a 4.25-carat Kahn Canary diamond once worn by Hillary Clinton, as well as the biggest diamond found in the US, the Uncle Sam diamond, a 40.23-carat white diamond found in 1924.