Dec 14th, 2012
The Amarillo Starlight is the largest diamond found by a park visitor in the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas since 1972, when it was established as a state park.
The Amarillo Starlight was found by W. W. Johnson of Amarillo, Texas in 1975 while he was vacationing at the park with his family. When unearthed, it was a 16.37 carat white diamond, but it has since been cut into a 7.54 carat marquise shape.
Its value has been estimated somewhere between $150,000 and $175,000.
4 February 2013
UPDATE received from Laura Stanley, Stanley Jewelers Gemologist
“The 16.37-carat white Amarillo Starlight Diamond was discovered by W.W. Johnson, of Amarillo, Texas. Mr. Johnson was a janitor who had taken an early retirement due to a heart condition. He first visited Crater of Diamonds State Park with his wife in August 1975.
Johnson and his wife had been surface searching at the park for about an hour when they decided to sit under a shade tree to cool off. While resting, Johnson saw the sun glinting off something about 30 feet away and walked over to see what it was. According to him, the tip of the stone was uncovered, but most of it remained buried. Johnson dug the stone out with his finger and took it to the visitor center for identification. After a few tests, his stone was confirmed to be a diamond. According to Jim Cannon, who was park superintendent at the time, Johnson didn’t realize the significance of what he had found until he was told it was larger than the 15-carat Star of Arkansas Diamond which had been found here in 1956!
Johnson named his diamond the Amarillo Starlight, after his hometown, and later had it appraised by Harold Branch. Branch was a well-known diamond cutter who had cut the Star of Arkansas and the 40.23-carat Uncle Sam Diamond, the largest ever found at the park. Though Branch said the gem was an impressive “raw diamond” and appraised it at $100,000, he said that a flaw in the center of the stone could ruin its value, if cut. Branch said, “If I cut it to avoid the flaw, I’d wind up with a good pear-shaped gem about 5 carats in size – which would be worth about $15,000.” However, Johnson eventually had the Amarillo Starlight cut into a 7.54-carat marquis gem, which at the time was valued between $150,000 and $175,000!
Unfortunately, I have little knowledge of the Amarillo Starlight beyond this point. I have never heard what happened to the stone, whether it is still in the family or was sold, or who might have purchased it.”
Waymon Cox, Crater of Diamonds State Park
Crater of Diamonds State Park