For What It’s Worth

Surprise! Surprise! (Second in a series)

I don’t know if 12-year-old Michael Dettlaff of North Carolina was familiar with the expression “diamond in the rough” before last week, but you can be assured he is now. To his surprise, he found one.

Michael, his sister, and his parents were about 10 minutes into a visit to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas when he spotted a brown diamond that “didn’t look like anything else around it.” It turned out to be 5.16 carats, the 27th largest diamond a park visitor has ever found since Arkansas’ diamond site became a state park in 1972.

Most diamonds found at the park are itty-bitty and, as diamonds go, essentially worthless. But, they make great souvenirs, and they are free. Check the park website and you will find there is a policy of “finders, keepers.” It says, “Any diamonds, semi-precious stones, rocks, or minerals you unearth are yours to keep, regardless of their value.”

When Michael first spotted the diamond, it was the diamond’s brown tint that stood out to him, he said. “It was kind of a bit of a honeyish-brown tint,” he said.

In a last-minute decision before leaving the park, Michael’s parents allowed him and his sister to take the rock to the park’s free identification center. That turned out to be a good decision. “We let the kids go up to the rock identification people by themselves and all of a sudden it’s like this five-carat diamond,” his father said. “It was just crazy after that.”

Michael didn’t recognize the jewel he had, but the park’s identifiers did. “When I brought this rock out of the bag, the guy who’s there, he just went bug-eyed and he said, ‘Hang on a second. I need to take this to the back room,’” Michael said. “So, then people start coming from everywhere and they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah. It’s a big diamond.’” That it was, the eighth-largest brown diamond that has been certified by the park staff.

Appraisers said that cleaned up and cut the diamond could be worth up to $15,000. That, I would say, is a Big Rock from a state known for its Little Rock.

“If it can get cut and it’s valuable, I think I’d probably want to have it cut and sell it,” Michael said. “If it’s not, well, then it’s a souvenir.”

Park officials told a Little Rock TV station that Michael had named his diamond “God’s Glory Diamond.”

I don’t know Michael, but I’m guessing he would agree that not all surprises are created equal. Matching the surprise of finding a brown rock worth perhaps $15,000 would not be easy to match.

However, each of us may be able to find an occasional “diamond in the rough” in our life. I found this to be true during the years I taught journalism in college. Now and then a student who didn’t appear sparkling and outstanding at first glance responded to some honing of his or her skills and was shaped into a top-notch student.

While I was a newspaper publisher, I had a student request to work as an intern, asking no pay except to receive credit for class work. He did excellent work and earned a job on staff after graduation. Later, a larger newspaper in the Southeast hired him away. He was a “diamond in the rough” surprise for me.

Perhaps you can find one, but you’ll have to be looking for it.


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1 Response to For What It’s Worth

  1. Cindy says:

    Maybe we’re all diamonds in the rough…

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