MURFREESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Dreams do come true, at least at one Arkansas state park.
Ever since he was a child growing up in the Natural State, Wendell Fox has wanted to search for diamonds.
Now retired and living in Montana, the 70-year-old man got his wish when he and his wife visited the Crater of Diamonds State Park for the first time.
On their second day at the park, the couple was surface searching the East Drain of the search area when Wendell spotted a large brown gem near a marker indicating where one of the park's well-known Strawn-Wagner diamond was found in 1990.
"I was 80 to 90 percent sure that it was a diamond when I saw it," Wendell is quoted as saying in a news release from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
He put the gem in a vial and carried to the park's Diamond Discovery Center where staff confirmed he had found a 2.78-carat diamond.
According to a park official, the diamond is "about the size of an English pea with an oval shape and a champagne brown color."
As a memento of this one-of-a-kind experience with his wife, Fox registered the diamond in his and his wife's names.
"It's no surprise that Mr. Fox found his diamond by surface searching," said Waymon Cox, park interpreter. "It has rained a lot at the park this spring. So far, we have registered 11 diamonds that were found on top of the ground in May."
Park personnel plow the diamond search area periodically to loosen the soil and assist with natural erosion.
Keeping with park tradition, the Wendell and Jennifer Fox named their gem the "Way Out Yonder," as a tribute to their home in Montana.
It is the second-largest gem registered at the park this year. On March 11, Centerton, AR, resident Kalel Langford found a 7.44-carat brown gem he named "Superman's Diamond." Earlier this month, Victoria Brodski of Tulsa, OK, found a 2.65 brown gem she dubbed the "Michelangelo Diamond."
The foxes said they plan to keep their diamond as a souvenir and might have it mounted in jewelry.
"All in all, it was a great experience," Wendell said. "Finding a diamond was just icing on the cake."
As of this writing, 209 diamonds have been registered at the park so far in 2017, weighing a total of 52.08 carats. Seven diamonds registered this year have weighed at least one carat each.
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