12-year-old bags rare souvenir: £7,700 diamond

ploughed field

Michael Detlaff, a 12-year-old boy scout from North Carolina, picked up an impressive souvenir in July - spending just £2.50 at a diamond hunting tourist attraction, and netting an incredible diamond worth £7,700.

He hit the jackpot at a diamond park in Arkansas - which lets visitors keep any diamonds they find. So is your fortune just waiting to be dug up?

The find

The Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas invites visitors to dig for diamonds in a ploughed field. Underneath the field is an ancient volcanic crater, which over the years has yielded a number of diamonds - ever since a local farmer stumbled across the first in 1906.

The park is now owned by the State of Arkansas, which launched the 'Crater' as a tourist attraction, charging diamond hunters £4.50 (and £2.50 for children).

According to CNN, Detlaff found his diamond on 31 July - within ten minutes of starting his search. ABC reported that after heavy rain, it was just sitting on the surface of the soil.

It has been named God's Glory Diamond, and at over 5 carats is a monster for the park - as the 27th largest diamond ever found there. It doesn't break the record though: a 16.37 carat diamond has been found in the park.

Can you dig for glory?

So should you get yourself on the first plane to Arkansas? Probably not. Diamond finds are relatively common - with 21 at the park over the last month, and almost 30,000 since the park was opened. However, they tend to be a tiny fraction of a carat - and too small to be cut. It means they're great souvenirs but have little value to anyone else.

And while 21 finds in a month looks good, bear in mind that the park has an average of 8,800 victors a month, which means you have one chance in 420 of finding a diamond, and even then it's unlikely to be worth anything.

Digging in the dirt for your fortune seems like a hit-and-miss way of making any money. However, with the onset of the financial crisis, there has been a small resurgence of the gold rush phenomenon.

The Discovery Channel has even made a TV series about several American families trying their luck gold mining in Canada and Alaska. After a terrible time in the first series of 'Gold Rush', where they lost money hand over fist and some ran out of funds entirely, they have since had more luck. In fact, in the third season of the show one family and their crew found $1.28 million of gold.

Maybe it's not to late to find your fortune in the dirt after-all.
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