When I was a child, I loved playing in my backyard. Between playing football and searching for worms and snails to adopt as pets, a portion of my garden time involved digging holes in the ground, looking for gold or a fossil of some kind. Of course, I never found anything, but for many children, the idea that there could be hidden treasure just waiting to be discovered is the stuff of dreams, and for one teenager, that dream has just come true.
Last Saturday, 14-year-old Kalel Langford achieved one of his lifelong aspirations when he visited the Crater of Diamonds State Park in his native Arkansas. Kalel only stayed in the Park for about half an hour, but by the time he left, he’d discovered a diamond that could be worth a huge amount of money.Kalel Langford is from Centerton in Arkansas, but last week, he got the chance to drive up to Pike County for a baseball tournament. In between his baseball commitments, Kalel took a trip to the Crater of Diamonds State Park. The park has 47 campsites, a restaurant as well as a children’s play pool, but the main attraction at the Crater of Diamonds is the Digging For Diamonds experience.There, you can become a prospector for a day in the hope of discovering a priceless gem. There are staff on hand to help you classify and certify rocks, and whatever you find there is yours to keep. Kalel was in the southern section of the dig site, when he noticed something rather interesting glistening in the ground.“It was just a few inches from a stream of water, with a bunch of other rocks that were about the same size.”
Kalel took the brown diamond to his dad, Craig, who was digging around nearby. Thanks to its odd brownish colour, Craig was unsure of the gem’s value, but on their way out of the park, the Langfords were told that Kalel had discovered a 7.44-carat diamond that day in the Crater of Diamonds.“We had only been at the park for about 30 minutes when he found it. Its color was so dark that we weren’t sure if it was a diamond, but we knew we needed to have it looked at.”Kalel’s diamond is the seventh-largest found at the Crater of Diamonds in its 45-year history. A 8.52-carat diamond was found in 2015, selling for $500,000, and Kalel could expect a similar amount for his diamond. The 14-year-old, however, has no intention of selling his special rock.The memory of his first trip to the Crater of Diamonds is more valuable than any sum of money Kalel could receive. Kalel called the brown gem Superman’s Diamond, for the teenager’s connection to the caped superhero (dad Craig reportedly had no idea “that Kalel was also Superman’s birthname” when they named him).It’s not every day that you go digging for diamonds and end up carrying home an expensive gem, but Park Interpreter Waymon Cox noted that Kalel arrived at the Crater of Diamonds with perfect timing.“Conditions were ideal for Kalel to find his diamond. About an inch of rain fell on the plowed search area during the week. A heavy rain can uncover larger diamonds near the surface. Diamonds have a metallic-looking shine and are often easier to spot on top of the ground… This diamond is a truly extraordinary find. It was Kalel’s dream to visit the Crater of Diamonds State Park, and now he will always be part of this park’s remarkable history. We are all very happy for him.”If you’re ever looking to strike rich, you could do a whole lot worse than spending a few hours at Arkansas’ Crater of Diamonds State Park. It’s also the home of the 40.23-carat Uncle Sam diamond, which is the largest diamond found in the United States when it was discovered in 1924. It eventually sold for an estimated $150,000 in 1971 (over $900,000 in today’s money), and with just a $10 fee to search for diamonds to your heart’s content, I think it’s likely that if you followed Kalel’s example, you’d find something pretty valuable as well.
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