“No Time To Die”–It’s Time To Find Diamonds!

Excitement is at a fever pitch for the U.S. release tomorrow of the latest James Bond movie, “No Time To Die.” Apparently the British spy refuses to die as this is his 25th film spanning many decades. As an avid fan of 007, I hope the latest release is a sparkling success, with the word “sparkling” evoking memories of the 1971 Bond movie “Diamonds Are Forever.” Diamonds play a role in another success, this time in real life, with the recent discovery of a diamond over 4 carats in an Arkansas state park.

Actor Daniel Craig, appearing in his final James Bond silver screen saga, had a rough and lengthy journey having “No Time To Die” see the light of day–or at least the darkness of the movie theater. Set to come out in 2019, setbacks with a change in director and the pandemic greatly delayed the movie’s release. One would think getting a James Bond movie out would be much easier than an average Jane Q. Citizen finding a large diamond in a field. But you’d be wrong!

Just as October 8th will be a red letter day for James Bond fans in the U.S., September 23rd was an epic day for a California woman traveling in Arkansas. While on the road, she decided it would be great fun to visit Crater of Diamonds, an Arkansas state park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas she’d read about. This park, located in southwest Arkansas, is the only public diamond mine in the world. Visitors to the park can search for diamonds there with a “finders, keepers” policy in effect.

Within an hour of arriving and starting her hunt for “ice,” Noreen Wredberg found a clean and shiny object sitting on top of the ground. So, she picked it up. Taking her find to the park’s Diamond Discovery Center, she learned she was the new owner of a 4.38 carat yellow diamond, the largest diamond found at the state park in the last year. The gem is described as being the size of jellybean with a pear shape and a lemonade color. (But don’t drink it!)

How could such a stunning discovery so easily and quickly have been made? Well, as they say, timing is everything. Noreen went to the park a couple of days after it had rained. Rain can uncover a larger diamond, and with the sun out, rays were hitting the gem’s reflective surface making it more noticeable.

While visiting a state park evokes visions of hiking trails, canoeing on a lake, and picnicking, searching for diamonds is unlikely to come to mind. And getting rich during a visit to a state park is even more unbelievable. But that’s what can happen at Crater of Diamonds State Park. On an average day, park visitor find one or two diamonds. During 2021, 258 diamonds have been registered at the park, together totaling around 46 carats. Since the park opened in 1972, park visitors have discovered over 33,100 diamonds. Holy Bling, Batman!

Noreen named her new bauble “Lucy’s Diamond” despite the gem having been found on the ground rather than in the sky. But “Lucy” isn’t the biggest diamond discovered at Crater of Diamonds. On Labor Day 2020, an Arkansas man came across a 9.07 carat diamond. But the MOAD (“Mother Of All Diamonds”) unearthed at the site was a 40.23 carat pink diamond located in 1924 prior to the area becoming a state park.

But what are diamonds doing in Arkansas of all places? That state is known for razorbacks, not gems. Aren’t diamonds from mines in South Africa? Well, yes. Arkansas is the first place outside of South Africa where diamonds can be found at their original volcanic source. Visitors to Crater of Diamonds State Park search a 37.5 acre plowed field which is the eroded surface of a volcanic crater. The park is situated over an eroded lamprocite volcanic pipe which formed as the result of violent eruptions of “deep-origin” volcanoes.

Not being a geology whiz, this explanation sounds like Greek to me. But in simpler terms, in order for diamonds to form, they require extremely high pressures and temperatures which can only be found deep in the earth’s mantle, the mostly solid bulk of Earth’s interior. Diamonds are brought to the surface during eruptions through relatively rare pipes which provide a conduit from down below to up above. These pipes are well known as the primary source of diamonds. I don’t know about pipes and carbon, but I am amazed at what beauty results from heat, pressure, and an eruption.

The diamonds produced from these extreme conditions and upheaval come in all colors of the rainbow. The three colors which have been found at Crater of Diamonds State Park are white, brown, and yellow. A gem’s color is dependent on trace elements captured in the diamond as it is being formed. Talk about being a product of your environment, even diamonds are in this category.

Dreaming of hitting it rich by coming across a diamond lying on the ground in a public park seems as likely to occur as James Bond not getting the girl, not bringing down the villain, and not ordering a martini “shaken, not stirred.” But 007 may experience some twists and turns accomplishing these things. I’m counting the hours until I can see the new Bond flick this weekend, but I’ll have to sit through 163 minutes, the longest Bond movie yet, to find how he manages to find success in his latest endeavors. In contrast, one lucky California women took only an hour to find a diamond to change her life forever.

WONDER-ing Woman:

Are you a James Bond fan? Were you aware diamonds can be found in the U.S.? Would you like to go to Arkansas and search for a diamond at Crater of Diamonds? Why or why not?

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