Chad Johnson has found about 80 diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park, but on Monday he nearly threw away his largest find yet. A cube-shaped rock plucked out of his sifters turned out to be a 4.38-carat, tea-colored diamond.
Johnson, 36, made the dig Saturday at the park and left his equipment in a locker. When he came back Monday morning, he made the discovery.
Crater of Diamonds State Park, which opened in 1972, is the world's only diamond-producing site open to the public, and visitors can keep the gems they unearth. The largest diamond found at the park was the 16.37-carat Amarillo Starlight, a white diamond found in 1975.
Johnson's find is the second-largest diamond uncovered at the park this year. In June, a Louisiana man found a 4.8-carat stone. More than 700 diamonds have been found there this year.
Since moving to Arkansas from Iowa in February, Johnson said, he was living off money made by selling diamonds. He only recently took a job at a convenience store, partly because he ''got tired of selling diamonds to make ends meet.''
Park officials declined to speculate how much money Johnson could get for the diamond. Johnson suggested he expects much more than what he is used to getting.
''If someone offers me that much money, it's theirs,'' Johnson said.
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