“I frequently receive emailed questions about the Crater of Diamonds State Park and its diamond mine,” wrote Margi Jenks, Park Interpreter in a Crater of Diamonds State Park news release.
“However, the inbox on July 18th contained an unusual email that was the beginning of the story of two Crater diamonds.”
The email was written by Dr. Sharon Fitzgerald, who is the Curator of the Mineralogical Museum at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware.
She was writing because she had recently found a letter about two diamonds that they have on display. One is a 7.24 carat yellow diamond and the other is a 5.64 carat white diamond.
The letter, dated February 17, 1923, was to a man named Irenee Du Pont from Wilmington, Delaware. Irenee Du Pont was one of three brothers who founded what is today the DuPont chemical company. The stationery had the letterhead of Tiffany and Company, 5th Avenue & 37th Street, New York.
Dr. Fitzgerald’s email identified the writer of the letter as George F. Kunz, who was the vice-president of Tiffany and Co. at the time the letter was written.
In the early 1900’s George Kunz was one of the premier gemologists and mineralogists in the world. He also had a long association with the Arkansas diamond mine.
In 1907 he was one of the partners in the Tiffany Group, which optioned a share of the Arkansas Diamond Mining Company. So, he traveled to Arkansas to view the mine and look for diamonds. By that time, John Huddleston, who found the first Arkansas diamond, had accumulated 100-150 stones.
During his visit to the mine, Kunz examined the diamonds and negotiated with Huddleston, buying the entire group for $43,000. It is possible that the diamonds Irenee Du Pont bought from Tiffany & Co. in 1923 were part of those Huddleston diamond finds.
In the 1923 letter Kunz describes having sent Du Pont seven individual diamonds and one packet of 10 diamonds weighing a total of 8.88 carats. The letter states “The stones that we sent to you are the selection of the most important stones that have come from Arkansas.”
The prices for the two diamonds now in the University of Delaware collection were quoted as $370 for the 7.24 carat yellow and $400 for the 5.64 carat white. Not much money in 2013, but a large sum by 1923 standards.
Du Pont must have also bought the 8.88 carat diamond group for $125. Dr. Fitzgerald reports that in 1964 Du Pont gave all 12 Arkansas diamonds to the University of Delaware Mineralogical Museum.
But the story doesn’t end in 1964. Over 25 years ago the Mineralogical Museum sold the 8.88 carat packet of 10 diamonds to Kristalle, a California gem and mineral company.
This August Kristalle sold the diamonds again to the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggott, Arkansas, in the northeast corner of the state. So, those 10 diamonds have completed a long journey from their original Arkansas home to Delaware, and back again.
The reason that the University of Delaware’s Arkansas diamond story is so fascinating is that they were only “rediscovered” to be Arkansas diamonds by chance. Dr. Fitzgerald was doing some research on the Irenee Du Pont specimens in their collection and ran across the Tiffany letter, prompting her to send her email to the park.
From the picture that she later sent to me, I was able to identify them as Arkansas diamonds. And, we have no other document in the park archives that directly connects early Arkansas diamonds with their eventual buyer and shows the price that was paid in those early days.
Finally, because Du Pont gave the diamonds to the University of Delaware museum, we are also able to trace the entire history of two especially beautiful Crater diamonds.
Crater of Diamonds State Park
Crater of Diamonds State Park is one of the 52 state parks administered by the State Parks Division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
Search area last plowed: Weekly
Most recent significant rainstorms: August 10, 2013
Total diamonds found in 2013: 360
Operating Hours: Visitor Center/Diamond Discovery Center is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m., extended summer hours
Admission: Adults $7.00, children (age 6-12) $4
Location: From Murfreesboro, take Arkansas 301 and go 2.5 miles southwest to the park
Address: 209 State Park Road, Murfreesboro, AR 71958
Phone: (870) 285-3113
Angels are like diamonds. They can’t be made, you have to find them. Each one is unique.