Amateur Prospector Finds 2.78-Carat Diamond in the Same Spot Where ‘Strawn-Wagner’ Was Discovered in 1990

Back in 1990, a Murfreesboro, Ark., resident named Shirley Strawn became an instant celebrity when she struck it rich at the nearby Crater of Diamonds State Park — the only diamond site in the world where amateur prospectors get to keep what they find.

Strawn discovered a 3.03-carat diamond in the East Drain section of the park’s 37 1/2-acre search area. Gemologists determined that the rough stone had so much potential as a faceted diamond that it was sent to New York, where famous diamond cutter Lazare Kaplan International worked its magic. The Arkansas-sourced rough gem was transformed into a world-class, 1.09-carat round brilliant-cut sparkler, and became the first diamond from the state park to earn a perfect grade of “Triple Zero” (Ideal cut/D color/Flawless) from the American Gem Society.

The find was so momentous that the State of Arkansas purchased the gem — now known as the “Strawn-Wagner” diamond — for $34,700 and made it the centerpiece of the park’s special exhibit. There’s even a prominent marker in the East Drain section of the park to show exactly where it was found.

Only a few weeks ago, a retiree named Wendell Fox was scanning the ground very close to the Strawn-Wagner marker when he, too, spotted a diamond on the surface. While Strawn’s gem was white and weighed 3.03 carats in its rough state, Fox’s gem weighed 2.78 carats and displayed a champagne brown color.

“I was 80 to 90 percent sure that it was a diamond when I saw it,” the 70-year-old Fox told park officials. About the size of an English pea, the oval diamond contains a few inclusions and demonstrates an unmistakable metallic shine.

Park Interpreter Waymon Cox noted, “It’s no surprise that Mr. Fox found his diamond by surface searching. It has rained a lot at the park this spring and, so far, we have registered 11 diamonds that were found on top of the ground in May.”

Cox explained that diamonds lack static electricity so dirt doesn’t stick to them. When rainfall uncovers larger diamonds near the surface and the sun comes out, they sparkle and are often easier to see.

Although Fox and his wife, Jennifer, are now retired and living in Joliet, Mont., Fox spent his formative years in Arkansas and always dreamed of searching for diamonds at the park. His wish came true a few weeks ago when the couple visited for the first time.

Wendall and Jennifer have named their diamond “Way Out Yonder” to honor their home in Montana and plan to have the gem mounted in a piece of jewelry.

“All in all, it was a great experience,” said Wendell Fox. “Finding a diamond was just icing on the cake.”

So far this year, the Crater of Diamonds State Park has registered 209 diamonds weighing a total of 52.08 carats. Seven diamonds have weighed in at more than 1 carat each. In March, 14-year-old Kalel Langford of Centerton, Ark., made headlines when he secured a 7.44-carat brown gem that he named “Superman’s Diamond.” The largest diamond ever discovered in the United States was unearthed in Murfreesboro in 1924 during an early mining operation. Named the Uncle Sam, the white diamond with a pink cast weighed 40.23 carats.

Credits: Images courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

92-Carat Heart-Shaped ‘La Légende’ Diamond Sells for $15 Million, Sets New Auction Record

The 92.15-carat “La Légende” — billed as the largest D-flawless, heart-shaped diamond ever seen at auction — set a new record at Christie’s Geneva when it was scooped up by an anonymous buyer for $15 million.

The previous record-holder was a 56-carat heart-shaped stone that was sold at Christie’s six years ago for $10.9 million.

Described by Christie’s as having excellent polish and symmetry, “La Légende” is the centerpiece of a cultured pearl necklace signed by Parisian jewelers Boehmer and Bassenge. “La Légende” (“The Legend”) is mounted in platinum and positioned between two round diamonds.

The Gemological Institute of America awarded “La Légende” a Type IIa rating. This is the purest type of diamond because it is composed solely of carbon with virtually no trace elements in the crystal lattice.

Christie’s had placed the pre-sale estimate for the auction headliner at $14 million to $20 million.

Other auction highlights included a 15.03-carat ruby ring, which fetched $12.9 million, and a 7.97-carat fancy intense blue diamond that sold for $12.7 million.

Overall, Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction presented 250 lots and reaped $95 million.

Credit: Photos courtesy of Christie’s.

Music Friday: Australian Country Legend John Williamson Sings About the Untold Riches Lying Beneath The Outback

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we take a trip to the Land Down Under where country legend John Williamson sings about the untold riches lying beneath the vast, remote, inland territory known as the Australian Outback.

In his 2002 song called “Sing You The Outback,” Williamson pays homage to generations of miners who have toiled in harsh conditions to extract precious metals and valuable gemstones…

“I’ll sing you the miners, steel and coal / Opals and diamonds, silver and gold / Emeralds and sapphires, I wish for you / Holes in the outback, down below.”

Williamson emphasizes the vital role The Outback has played in Australia’s history and the impact it will have on its future. He contrasts the territory’s harsh and unforgiving environment with its incomparable beauty. The Outback encompasses 2.5 million square miles, but is inhabited by only 60,000 people. He describes The Outback as “impossible,” while also acknowledging that “there is no way he can find an end to what it means to me.”

“Sing You The Outback” is the first track from Williamson’s studio album, Gunyah, which means “home” in the traditional Aboriginal language.

Over the course of a career that has spanned nearly five decades, the 71-year-old singer-songwriter has earned a reputation of being a vocal advocate for the people of the bush. He has also been a prolific recording artist and commercial success. He’s credited with releasing 40 albums, with sales tallying more than four million in Australia alone.

He has received 26 Golden Guitar trophies at the Country Music Awards of Australia and, in 2010, was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame. In 2000, he performed at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games.

We hope you enjoy the audio track of Williamson performing “Sing You The Outback.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Sing You The Outback”
Written and performed by John Williamson.

I’ll sing you the desert, where black men sailed
Waterhole to water, where white men failed
See the face of dreamers, forgotten souls
Hear the voice of cattlemen crackle in the coals
Maybe we will learn what’s written in the sand
A thousand generations living off the land
I’ll sing you the waters, runnin’ through the town
Wildflowers and Wattles when it settles down
The Outback is impossible, forever and it’s free
No way can I find an end to what it means to me

The Outback

I’ll sing you the miners, steel and coal
Opals and diamonds, silver and gold
Emeralds and sapphires, I wish for you
Holes in the outback, down below
There’s lakes and there’s rivers, caves to be found
And there’s another landscape underground

I’ll sing you the waters runnin’ through the town
Wildflowers and Wattles when it settles down
The backbone of the women who fight on and on
The healing of the sunset when all is said and done
The Outback is impossible, forever and it’s free
No way can I find an end to what it means to me

To what it means to me
The Outback (4X)

Credits: Screen capture via

Brazilian Miners Unearth 600-Pound Emerald; Specimen Will Likely Go on Tour

An enormous emerald weighing more than 600 pounds and standing 4.3 feet tall was unearthed recently in Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia.

The specimen, which contains numerous emerald crystals embedded in host rock, was extracted from a depth of 656 feet at the Carnaiba mine. Credited with the amazing find are the miners of the Bahia Mineral Cooperative.

The specimen was pulled from Carnaiba about three weeks ago, and its May discovery worked out perfectly because emerald is the official birthstone for this month.

A local mine owner purchased the stone for an undisclosed sum, and said through his lawyer that he intends to present the giant emerald at national exhibitions. He also chose not to be identified due to security-related issues.

“Today, the owner of the stone is authorized to travel with it through all national [Brazilian] territory,” said lawyer Marcio Jandir. “Obviously he wants to do some exhibitions with the stone, present it in museums and libraries, wherever he is able to present it.”

Despite its immense proportions, the recently discovered emerald specimen is not the largest ever found in the region. In 2001, the 752-pound Bahia Emerald was also pulled from a local mine. Over the past 16 years, that stone has been the subject of international intrigue and numerous legal claims. It was once estimated to be worth $400 million, but its actual value remains a mystery. At one point in its murky history, it was listed on eBay for a “Buy It Now” price of $75 million.

Credits: Video screen captures via

Texas Storm Chaser Combines His Two Loves in One Unforgettable Proposal Scene

A Texas storm chaser successfully combined the two loves of his life when he popped the question to his girlfriend with a tornado spinning perilously nearby.

An amazing photo posted to his Facebook page on May 17 shows 25-year-old Alex Bartholomew on bended knee as he proposes to his girlfriend, Britney Fox Cayton. Sharing the romantic scene with the couple is a twister descending from a giant, grey storm cloud.

“I thought it would be kind of cool to combine the two best things in my life,” Bartholomew told “I really wanted it to go like this. I really wanted to propose in front of a tornado to combine the two loves of my life.”

Bartholomew’s friend, Jason Cooley, took the shots that caught the attention of high-profile media outlets, such as Inside Edition, USA Today,, Huffington Post and NPR.

“I wanted to get the tornado right in between them,” Cooley told Inside Edition. “I was worried the tornado was going to disappear. The tornado waited for us. The scene was perfect.”

Bartholomew, who works with his new fiancée at Home Depot in Temple, Texas, fulfills his passion for tornados by taking a few weeks off every year for what he calls a “chase-cation.” This is when he invites his friends to join him in his pursuit of spectacular weather systems — and twisters.

Cayton and Cooley agreed to participate in Bartholomew’s latest chase, but the future bride had no clue a marriage proposal was in the offing. Bartholomew had purchased the ring in March, but was waiting for just the right time to pop the question.

That time came to pass last Tuesday near picturesque McLean, Texas.

“I had no idea, it was complete shock,” Cayton told Inside Edition. “I just nodded because I couldn’t get the words out I was tearing up so bad.”

“Wow, what a day,” Bartholomew wrote on his Facebook post. “2 (maybe 3 tornadoes), great storms and most importantly she said YES!”

The storm chaser added, “I seriously couldn’t ask for a better life and I can’t wait to spend it with her by my side.”

The couple’s story was immortalized on NPR. Click the link to hear host David Greene reporting for the Morning Edition.

Credits: Images via Facebook/Alex Bartholomew; Facebook/Britney Fox Cayton.

$13 ‘Fake’ Gem Bought 30 Years Ago at a ‘Car Boot Sale’ Turns Out to Be 26-Carat Diamond Worth $448K

Thirty years ago, a woman from west London scooped up a showy ring for £10 ($13) at a car boot sale. Convinced that it was costume jewelry due to its inexpensive price, oversized center stone and filthy mounting, the woman cleaned it up and made it part of her day-to-day fashion wardrobe. (For Brits, a car boot sale is akin to a flea market.)

Now, decades later, Sotheby’s London will be putting the ring on the auction block on June 7 for a staggering pre-sale high estimate of $448,000. You see, the bauble turned out to be a 26.27-carat, antique cushion-shaped diamond that dates back to the 19th century.

“The owner would wear it out shopping, wear it day-to-day. It’s a good looking ring,” Jessica Wyndham, head of Sotheby’s London jewelry department, told the BBC. “But it was bought as a costume jewel. No one had any idea it had any intrinsic value at all. [She] enjoyed it all this time.”

Only recently, a local jeweler told the owner that the ring could be very valuable. The owner, who did not want to be identified, took the ring to Sotheby’s, which confirmed the authenticity of the diamond with a report from the Gemological Institute of America. The diamond earned an impressive clarity grade of VVS2 and an “I” color rating.

Sotheby’s believes the ring will sell in the range of $320,000 to $448,000.

The owner had been convinced that her stone was a fake because it didn’t sparkle like a modern diamond.

“With an old style of cutting… the light doesn’t reflect back as much as it would from a modern stone cutting,” Wyndham said. “Cutters worked more with the natural shape of the crystal, to conserve as much weight rather than make it as brilliant as possible.”

Wyndham said the sale of the ring would be life-changing for the owner. She called the ring a “one-off windfall, an amazing find.”

Credit: Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Two of Australia’s Finest Opals Head to Qatar for Three-Week Exhibition

Two of world’s finest opals — the Virgin Rainbow and the Fire of Australia — are jetting 7,000 miles from Adelaide to Doha to headline a three-week special exhibition at the Australian Embassy in Qatar. This will be the first time the gems have been seen outside of Australia.

Valued at more than $1 million combined, the famous pair will join 60 others selected from the South Australian Museum’s wildly popular “Opals” exhibition, which ended its run in 2016. The Doha exhibition will be open to the public from May 24 through June 15, 2017.

South Australian Museum Director Brian Oldman noted that he was thrilled to share the finest examples of Australia’s national gemstone with the people of Qatar.

“The Virgin Rainbow is the finest crystal opal specimen ever unearthed,” he said. “It has only been on public display once before, and will provide visitors to the exhibition with an unmatched spectacle of color and beauty.”

Measuring 2.4 inches long and displaying a full spectrum of brilliant color, the finger-shaped specimen seems to have a light source all its own.

“It’s almost as if there’s a fire in there,” Oldman had told AFP in 2015. “You see all different colors. As the light changes, the opal itself changes. It’s quite an amazing trick of nature.”

The 4,990-carat Fire of Australia is acknowledged as the world’s most valuable piece of rough opal. The opal was purchased for AU$500,000 ($372,000) through the generosity of a private donor and funding from the Australian government’s National Cultural Heritage Account. Two faces of the Fire of Australia have been polished to reveal the magical colorations inside, transitioning from green to yellow to red, depending on the angle from which it is viewed.

Scientists claim that between 97 million and 100 million years ago, Australia’s vast inland sea, which was populated by marine dinosaurs, began retreating. As the sea regressed, a rare episode of acidic weather was taking place, exposing pyrite minerals and releasing sulphuric acid. As the surface of the basin dried further and cracked, silica-rich gel became trapped in the veins of the rock. Over time, the silica solidified to form opals.

Today, Australia produces more than 90% of the world’s precious opals.

The exhibition reflects a growing relationship between Australia and Qatar, which saw the commencement of Qatar Airways’ direct flights to Adelaide in 2016.

Photo of Virgin Rainbow opal by Richard Lyons, courtesy of South Australian Museum. Photo of Fire of Australia opal via

Music Friday: In Exchange ‘For Your Love,’ The Yardbirds Will Bring Diamond Rings to Your Door

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today’s featured track is “For Your Love” by the British-invasion band The Yardbirds. The 1965 hit, which features key “diamond” references, was the group’s biggest commercial success, but also triggered the departure of future superstar Eric Clapton.

The song is essentially a love treatise, with lead singer Keith Relf ticking off all the things he would give “for your love.” In addition to offering the moon, the sun and the stars, Relf starts off with a jewelry-related proposition…

Relf sings, “I’d give you everything and more and that’s for sure / I’d bring you diamond rings and things right to your door / To thrill you with delight / I’d give you diamonds bright/ Double takes I will excite / Make you dream of me at night.”

Even though the song rose to #6 on the U.S. Billboard Top 100 chart and scored #1 spots in both the UK and Canada, “For Your Love” was the straw that broke the camel’s back for a 20-year-old Clapton. The lead guitarist left the band eight days after the song’s release because he believed it signaled that The Yardbirds were abandoning their blues roots and becoming too commercial. Music historians claim he was also disgruntled having to duplicate the song’s unusual harpsichord intro on his 12-string electric guitar when playing live.

On The Yardbirds official site, guitarist Chris Dreja said “For Your Love” was responsible for bringing the group international fame. He also said that the “weirdness” of the song’s time-signature change in the middle became a template for future hits.

“‘For Your Love’ was an interesting song,” Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty told “It had an interesting chord sequence, very moody, very powerful. And the fact that it stopped in the middle and went into a different time signature, we liked that, that was interesting. Quite different, really, from all the bluesy stuff that we’d been playing up till then. But somehow we liked it. It was original and different.”

Ironically, The Yardbirds’ signature song and biggest hit wasn’t originally intended for the group. Music legend states that songwriter Graham Gouldman wrote it for his own group, the Mockingbirds, but their demo was rejected by Columbia Records. Apparently, the song was also turned down by the producers of Herman’s Hermits and the Animals before landing with The Yardbirds.

Musician Dave Liebman, who was hired to write the introduction to “For Your Love,” revealed years later that the use of the harpsichord was a total accident. Upon arriving at the recording studio, he realized that the organ he intended to use was nowhere in site. He had to settle for a harpsichord and history was made — the first rock song featuring a harpsichord.

The Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and are included in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.”

Please check out the video at the end of this post. It’s a rare 1965 clip of The Yardbirds performing “For Your Love” on Shindig!, a U.S. musical variety show. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“For Your Love”
Written by Graham Gouldman. Performed by The Yardbirds.

For your love.
For your love.
For your love.
I’d give you everything and more, and that’s for sure.
For your love.
I’d bring you diamond rings and things right to your door.
For your love.

To thrill you with delight,
I’ll give you diamonds bright.
There’ll be things that will excite,
To make you dream of me at night.

For your love.
For your love.
For your love.

For your love, for your love,
I would give the stars above.
For your love, for your love,
I would give you all I could.

For your love.
For your love.
For your love.
I’d give the moon if it were mine to give.
For your love.
I’d give the stars and the sun ‘fore I live.
For your love.

To thrill you with delight,
I’ll give you diamonds bright.
There’ll be things that will excite,
To make you dream of me at night.

For your love.
For your love.
For your love.
For your love.

Credit: For Your Love album cover by The Yardbirds/Epic Records.

Apollo and Artemis Earrings Sell for $57.4 Million, Set Auction Record at Sotheby’s Geneva

A non-matching pair of fancy-color diamond earrings named after the twin deities Apollo and Artemis set an auction record at Sotheby’s Geneva yesterday when they sold for a combined $57.4 million. The pink and blue pear-shaped duo now hold the title of the most valuable pair of earrings ever sold at auction.

Sotheby’s had promoted the earrings as a pair, but offered them as separate lots. Any fears that the Apollo Blue and Artemis Pink would be separated forever were put to rest when a single anonymous buyer claimed both siblings.

“I am delighted that the stones will remain together as earrings,” noted David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division.

In the lead-up to the sale, Bennett had accurately portrayed the Apollo and Artemis diamonds as “by far the most important pair of earrings ever offered at auction.”

The auction house also announced that the new buyer had renamed both stones. The “Apollo Blue,” a fancy vivid blue diamond weighing 14.54 carats, is now called “The Memory of Autumn Leaves,” while the “Artemis Pink,” a fancy intense pink diamond weighing 16.00 carats, is now called “The Dream of Autumn Leaves.”

The Apollo Blue had the distinction of being the largest internally flawless fancy vivid blue diamond ever to be offered at auction. Sotheby’s had set a pre-sale estimated price range of $38.3 million to $50.4 million. The hammer price, including the buyer’s premium, was $42.1 million. Just last year, the 14.62-carat “Oppenheimer Blue” set a record when it yielded $57.5 million at Christie’s Geneva.

Boasting a clarity rating of VVS2, the pink diamond carried a pre-sale estimate of $12.6 million to $18.1 million and eventually sold for $15.3 million.

Overall, Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Geneva presented nearly 400 pieces and reaped more than $150 million in sales. More than 90% of the lots found buyers and three auction records were broken.

In addition to the record-setting earrings, Sotheby’s collected a record price for a fancy intense purplish pink diamond at $13.2 million. That same stone also established a record per-carat price at $1.9 million.

Credit: Image courtesy of Sotheby’s. Screen capture via

Newlyweds Reunited With Wedding Rings 8 Days After Tornado Obliterates Their Home

Described as a “miracle that came out of tragedy,” Texas newlyweds Ariel and Justin Duke were reunited with Ariel’s engagement ring and wedding band eight days after a deadly tornado flattened their home and scattered debris for miles.

Having learned of the couple’s plight on Facebook, amateur metal-detector enthusiast and Good Samaritan Nathan Wright meticulously scanned the Dukes’ devastated property for five hours before finally scoring both rings.

Ariel told Spectrum News that she removed her rings to do some yard work just before the twister obliterated their small, yellow farmhouse in Canton on April 29.

“Literally our house was just leveled. It wasn’t destroyed, it just wasn’t there,” Justin told ABC News.

In the aftermath of the storm, the couple — who had been married only three months — attempted to recover Ariel’s precious keepsakes with the help of some friends, but they came up empty.

Their next strategy was to post photos of the rings to Facebook, hoping that someone would find and return them.

“By the time I had come across [the Facebook post] they had kind of given up,” Wright told ABC News. “It was about eight days since [the tornado] happened and they had a bunch of people out there using rakes and doing everything they could to find [the rings].”

Wright explained that it’s very difficult to use a metal detector in an area where debris is strewn everywhere, but the small chance of finding the rings was “worth a shot.”

After three hours, Wright’s search had yielded just a bunch of bullets and pull tabs.

But then, in a grassy field about 100 yards from where the house used to be, he finally started finding coins and kitchen utensils.

“Then I found an earring!” Wright wrote on Facebook. “I was excited, thinking maybe I was getting in the right area. I was praying this whole time that I’d be to find this ring and give some happiness back to this girl after such a rough week. Finally, I bent down to pick up what I thought would be another pull tab and, BAM, I see the gold ring laying under the grass! I hollered out and thanked the Lord!”

Wright had discovered Ariel’s engagement ring. Shortly after, about 30 feet away, he detected Ariel’s wedding band, as well.

“I bent down and knew the gold looked exactly like the engagement ring,” Wright said. “To be able to find both of those in the debris-strewn field like that was unreal. I’ll remember that forever.”

Wright explained on Facebook how he teased Ariel, by revealing the wedding band, at first, but not the engagement ring.

“I showed her the small wedding band first and said, ‘I found your ring!’ She was very excited but you could tell she was hoping for the other one,” he wrote. “Then I pulled the other one out of my pocket. She screamed and bulldozed me with a big hug! She couldn’t believe I found both of them. I’m so happy to be able to get these back to her!

“There is a miracle that can come out of tragedy,” Justin told ABC News. “It seemed like we were on downward spiral, but with him finding the rings, we’re on an upswing and getting on with life. We’re going to see what the good Lord has in store for us.”

On Facebook, Ariel posted photos related to ring recovery, as well as a message directed to Wright: “Thanks again for all of your hard work and determination! It’s nice to have some miracles from a tragedy. God sent Nathan out for a reason and we couldn’t be more blessed! God is good!”

Credits: Images via