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July 14, 2013

Vacationer finds 2.95-carat diamond in state park

A Kentucky man vacationing in Arkansas on July 4 found a 2.95-carat reason to remember the holiday.

Terry Staggs, of Richmond, Ky., found a gem he named the "Patriot Diamond" while combing the nearly 38-acre search area of the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Ark.

The site is the world's eighth-largest diamond-bearing deposit, according to an Arkansas State Parks news release.

Except for when he was stationed overseas during his 23-year Army career, Staggs has been visiting the park about twice annually for the past 28 years, he said. He had found other, smaller diamonds in previous visits. However, he came up empty-handed in a visit earlier this year.

Staggs said he had searched the park’s surface for two and a half hours before noticing the Patriot Diamond sparkling in the sun. At least 50 people had walked by the spot during that time, and he had walked by it once, Staggs said.

"I had the sun to my advantage," he said of his second pass by the spot where the gem lay in the dirt.

The Patriot Diamond is the largest of 304 diamonds that have been found at the park this year, according to the parks system.

It is champagne brown and about the size of an English pea. Park interpreter Waymon Cox described it is "stunning," even in its rough form.

Staggs said he has no intention of selling the diamond, or even having it appraised. It's going in a safe-deposit box with his other diamond finds.

The Crater of Diamonds is the world’s only diamond-producing site open to the public. According to a release from the park, an average of two diamonds are found there every day, although they typically aren’t as large as the Patriot Diamond.

When people find  diamonds in the park, they are allowed to keep them.

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Details for this story provided by the Richmond, Ky., Register

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