By Sarah Hogsed
Register Staff Report
A Richmond man vacationing in Arkansas on July 4 found a 2.95 carat reason to remember the holiday.
Terry Staggs, who moved to Richmond in August, found a gem he named the Patriot Diamond while combing the nearly 38-acre search area of the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Ark.
The site is the world’s eighth-largest diamond-bearing deposit, according to an Arkansas State Parks news release.
Except for when he was stationed overseas during his 23-year Army career, Staggs said in a Monday interview with the Register that he has been visiting the park about twice annually for the past 28 years. He had found other, smaller diamonds in previous visits. However, he came up empty- handed in a visit earlier this year and hopes to return to the park this fall.
Staggs said he had searched the park’s surface for two and a half hours before noticing the Patriot Diamond sparkling in the sun. At least 50 people had walked by the spot during that time, and he had walked by it once, Staggs said in a phone interview.
“I had the sun to my advantage,” he said of his second pass by the spot where the gem lay in the dirt.
The Patriot Diamond is the largest of 304 diamonds that have been found at the park this year.
It is “champagne brown,” and about the size of an English pea. Park interpreter Waymon Cox described it is “stunning,” even in its rough form.
Staggs said he has no intention of selling the diamond, or even having it appraised. It’s going in a safe-deposit box with his other diamond finds.
Staggs said he loves living in Richmond where he is employed by a Blue Grass Army Depot contractor.
When given the choice of moving to Colorado or Kentucky with his job, he jumped at the chance to live in the Bluegrass state.
He spent time at Ft. Knox during his military career and has a son who lives in Indiana, which helped him pick central Kentucky, Staggs said.
The Crater of Diamonds is the world’s only diamond-producing site open to the public. According to a release from the park, an average of two diamonds are found there every day, athough they typically aren’t as large as the Patriot Diamond.
When people find diamonds in the park, they are allowed to keep them.
The park staff provide free identification and registration of every diamond found, the news release stated.