Discovering something valuable is every treasure hunter’s dream. It’s partly for this reason, after all, that we see people with metal detectors scouring beaches while others pan for gold in rivers. However, what one Oklahoma woman found in 2017 is bound to make almost every one of these people emerald green-eyed with envy.
Victoria Brodski, 25, had traveled with her family to visit a famous site in Arkansas. Yes, the group had gone to visit the Crater of Diamonds State Park in the Natural State – and yet they probably didn’t bank on making a find that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
The Brodski family had, as you’ve probably guessed, gone to hunt for diamonds in the park. There, they were hopeful of finding something, and they’d even worked out a code system to use if they struck lucky. If any one of them found a diamond, then, they had to shout out a particular word.
As a matter of fact, the code the Brodskis were using was based on a famous cartoon. You see, they decided to shout the names of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles if they found one of the valuable rocks. That way, the thinking went, no one around them would rush over or make them feel threatened in such an event.
However, the family had only been at the park for about ten minutes when Victoria Brodski saw something on the ground that caught her eye. And while it only appeared to be a small brown lump that looked like glass, Victoria nevertheless called out “Michaelangelo” to signal that she’d found something.
Victoria then decided to take the piece of material to the park’s Diamond Discovery Center – but she wasn’t prepared for what happened a few hours later. Why? Because staff examined her find and told her that, rather than having discovered a piece of glass, she had stumbled across a 2.65-carat diamond.
Speaking about the find, park interpreter Waymon Cox said, “Mrs. Brodski’s diamond is one of the more beautiful brown diamonds I’ve seen from the park… It’s about the size of a bead, with a dark brown color like raw honey. It has a smooth, rounded surface and appears free of blemishes, inside and out.”
Now when you consider just how many hopeful treasure hunters have flocked to the park over the years, that’s saying something. That said, there hasn’t been a major shortage of success. Since 1906, in fact, in excess of 75,000 diamonds of varying size and value have been found in the location.
In any event, though, Victoria Brodski and her family were delighted with the find. And as for next steps, the lucky woman told reporters that she planned to sell the diamond and split the proceeds with her family. Quite a generous gesture, then – and perhaps not one that everyone would make.
However, the diamond that Victoria Brodski uncovered is actually not the largest to have been found in the park even in 2017. The biggest of the year, a 7.44-carat diamond, was discovered by 14-year-old Kalel Langford. And after coming across the diamond in March, the teenager quickly found himself in the newspapers.
In fact, Victoria Brodski said that she and her family had actually been inspired to visit the park because of Langford’s story. If they’d needed another reason, though, they only had to look at what happened back in 2015. Then, a visitor came upon an 8.52-carat diamond worth an eye-watering $500,000.
Now as for its scale, the Crater of Diamonds State Park covers a huge area of 911 acres, while it features a plowed field of 37.5 acres where members of the public can search for diamonds. It’s also important to remember that this field is the only diamond-containing site in the world that’s open to the public. And in addition to the discoveries already mentioned, it has been the location of at least one other incredible find.
That find was the 3.03-carat Strawn-Wagner Diamond, which was discovered in 1990 by Shirley Strawn of Arkansas. And as a measure of just how special it is, the American Gem Society considers it a one-in-a-billion specimen. In fact, it is the only diamond that the society has ever rated as “perfect.”
For her part, Shirley Strawn is still proud of her find even today. “It is perfect in the cut, color and clarity,” she told Voice of America. “It’s on permanent display out here in Crater of Diamonds. This is exactly where I want it to be. I’m proud for many things, but this sign was just the crowning moment.”
Strawn is something of a veteran at the park, too. She’s been the finder of over 500 diamonds in her time at Crater of Diamonds and is determined to find more. She said, “I feel like there is one bigger than Uncle Sam. I will be proud to be the one [who] finds it.” But what exactly is the “Uncle Sam” diamond?
Well, it’s first worth noting that the site wasn’t always public land. No, it once belonged to the Arkansas Diamond Corporation – and it was this company that uncovered Uncle Sam. The stone’s name came from the nickname of the diamond’s finder, Wesley Oley Basham, who worked for the firm.
The rock weighed a colossal 40.23 carats and was cut down to a 12.42-carat “emerald-cut” gem. In other words, Wesley Oley Basham had just found the biggest diamond ever unearthed in America. Naturally, then, the stone would make him and the region famous.
What’s more, the find was actually enough to save the Arkansas Diamond Corporation, which had been struggling badly with debt and a lack of prospects. And while Uncle Sam didn’t solve all of the debt problems, it did keep the company going. Then, in 1971, Sidney de Young acquired and subsequently sold the diamond to a private collector for $150,000.
Most of the diamonds found in the park nowadays are, however, small gemstones. But for anyone feeling lucky enough to go there, park staffer Rachel Engebrecht advises visitors to look for “dirt that looks like it has a lot of rocks in it.” She added, “It doesn’t guarantee you will find a diamond… but it improves your odds a little bit.”
Finds like Victoria Brodski’s don’t come about every day, but they do happen. And who knows – you could be lucky one day, too. It could pay, then, to follow Brodski’s top tip. As she said, “Prior to looking for diamonds, find out what [they] look like. I would have been a lot more excited if I had known it was a diamond when I picked it up!”