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Man mining for engagement ring material finds 2.2 carat diamond at Arkansas state park

Christian Liden, a visitor at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas, discovered a two-carat diamond.
/ Source: TODAY

A Washington man made the discovery of a lifetime when he found a two-carat diamond at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas.

Since Christian Liden was in the eighth grade, he knew that he wanted to hunt for his own gemstones and do something different when it came to his future proposal. A self-proclaimed “rock hound,” Liden’s middle school plans came to fruition when it came time to propose to his now-fiancée.

Liden, 26, has been collecting gold throughout the years panning throughout his home state of Washington during his hikes, saving up enough to form a band. He struggled to find a spot in the United States where he could hunt for diamonds and be able to keep the gems he retrieved until he was given one life-changing tip by a colleague.

“I was at work speaking with a co-worker talking to them about my idea and he was like, ‘Well, why haven't you looked into Arkansas?’” Liden told TODAY. “I had never even heard about it and he told me about the (Crater of Diamonds) state park and how it was $10 a day and you could go in there and hunt for diamonds and whatever you found you got to keep. So from that point, I just started planning my trip, researching how to hunt for diamonds, and what to look for.”

Christian Liden, of Poulsbo, Washington, found a 2.2 carat diamond at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. Liden plans to use the diamond in a custom engagement ring he's making from found materials.Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism

After ironing out the details and learning how to build his own tools to look for the stones, Liden had everything planned out for his excursion.

On May 1, the Poulsbo, Washington native and his friend left Washington state, first stopping in Montana where they found some sapphires. They made a couple of more stops at some national parks so he could explore the United States, but also so his girlfriend wouldn’t get suspicious about his quest to find the perfect diamond for her engagement ring.

Liden and his friend arrived in Arkansas on May 7 to begin their search at the Crater of Diamonds. The duo searched for three days on-site before discovering the now-famous diamond on May 10.

“We were washing gravel at the wash station inside the state park and I was separating the light material from the heavy material with the screen,” Liden explained. “You would flip the screen and then you would look for a diamond in the heavy material because naturally, they're heavier."

As soon as Liden flipped the screen, he saw a glint of the sun reflecting off of the diamond and knew he'd found something special.

“I knew it wasn't a piece of glass, so I instantly started shaking, and I just covered it up with my hand and waved my buddy over to come and see,” he said. “He came over and lifted my hand and he knew instantly, just seeing it never seeing a diamond before, but knowing my reaction, that's what it was. I was shaking so bad, I was afraid to pick it up because if you drop it, you're not gonna find it.”

Liden named his diamond, right, the Washington Sunshine, “because it's got a nice, light yellow color, just like sunlight in Washington.”Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism

Liden’s friend grabbed the diamond out of the gravel and safely transferred it into a small plastic bag. They cleaned up their belongings and immediately brought the diamond down to the Discovery Center and got it certified. The diamond they uncovered turned out to be a 2.20-carat yellow diamond.

“It does have a lot of shine and a lot of luster, there’s a natural impurity in it that actually reflects light off and give it a little more shine inside,” he explained. “It’s very pretty, but just super, super rare to find a diamond that size. They said anything over one carat usually is pretty rare. So yeah, everything’s been settling in ever since.”

Liden and his friend made one more stop in Nevada before heading back home to Washington state so they could mine for some opals.

The proposal, unsurprisingly, went well and his girlfriend said yes!

“I bought a ring on my way home in Nevada, just as a temporary,” Liden said. “I proposed to my girlfriend with the diamond. After she said yes, I pulled the ring out, gave it to her, and told her this is just temporary while we find somebody that can design a ring around this.”

The couple isn’t in any rush to design the official engagement ring with the stunning yellow diamond quite yet.

“We’re just feeling out what’s going to happen!” he said.