By Brecken Branstrator
The 8.52-carat “Esperanza” diamond recently found at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas will be cut by Mike Botha of Embee Diamonds during an event at local retailer Stanley Jewelers.
North Little Rock, Ark.--When a large, high-quality rough diamond was unearthed recently at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas, one local jeweler didn’t want to let the opportunity to hold an event involving the stone get away.

In late June, Bobbie Oskarson found an 8.52-carat diamond when she was visiting the park with her boyfriend. Dubbed the “Esperanza,” the rough diamond is among the largest uncovered there.

Now, Stanley Jewelers Gemologists in North Little Rock is partnering with Canada’s Embee Diamonds for an in-store cutting event featuring the Esperanza.

Interest in the state park led to the store taking a group of customers to visit it since it’s only two hours away. Embee’s Mike Botha, master diamond cutter, and his son Evert also were along for the trip. 

Though no one in the group found any stones of significant size, Laura Stanley said they still had a great time. 

Botha also did a diamond cutting demonstration in the store for an event that proved to be really popular. “People loved it. It was a wonderful event,” Stanley told National Jeweler

That was almost exactly a year before Oskarson found the 8-carat stone. Stanley said that once the news of the big find came out, she got a call from Evert Botha, who really wanted to do something with the diamond and began trying to track down Oskarson. 

When it turned out she was looking for guidance on what to do with her found diamond, the three began working together.

This started with a pre-evaluation of the rough at the AGS Laboratories. What they’ve found so far, according to Stanley, is that it’s Type IIa and that “it appears to be colorless and appears to have a very high clarity.” And while it’s hard to tell exactly how big the final stone will be at this time, they’re hoping it will end up yielding around 6 carats.

“This is the fifth-largest diamond from that park,” Stanley said. “If it maintains the 6 carats we’re hoping for, that would make it the fourth-largest cut diamond from Crater.”

Mike Botha will cut the stone at in-store event at Stanley Jewelers scheduled to take place next month. “He really wants to do this,” Stanley said. “He’s even going to ship his whole bench down there just for the event.”

After the stone is cut, likely into a fancy briolette, and sent to AGS Laboratories for final grading, plans right now call for American designer and AGS member Erica Courtney to create a setting for the stone. Stanley Jewelers then will help Oskarson look for a buyer or arrange to have it sold at auction on her behalf.

Being involved in this find has Stanley thinking about a client she worked with who found the “Illusion,” an 8.66-carat diamond, at the park in 2011. She said although the stone wasn’t as high quality as the Esperanza, there still could be some opportunity. “This has sparked me thinking, maybe we should go back to him and see what can be done after all. You never know.”

It also has the jeweler thinking about the possibility of opportunities from the park in the future, but Stanley said that would really depend on the quality of the diamonds that are unearthed.

It doesn’t seem entirely out of the realm of possibility, however, as a fair number of good-sized diamonds have been unearthed at the park, which is a rarity in itself. 

RELATED CONTENT: Why there are diamonds in Arkansas

Rather than being a kimberlite deposit, which is where many of the large, profitable diamond mines are found, Crater of Diamonds State Park is a lamproite deposit.

According to Bram Janse, a diamond exploration geologist and also an adjunct senior research fellow at the Centre for Exploration Targeting at the University of Western Australia in Perth, lamproites are formed from a large group of rocks rich in alkaline-potassic minerals including leucite, phlogopite and clinopyroxene, among others.

He added that one variety, olivine lamproite, resembles kimberlites in that it shows olivine crystals but is comprised of different minerals. 

There are only four known olivine lamproite diamond mines in the world, Janse said. In addition to the Crater state park in Arkansas, there is the Argyle mine in Western Australia; Ellendale, also in Western Australia but which shuttered operations in early July; and the small Majhgawan mine near Panna in India.

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