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My name is Sam.

Jan 23rd, 2013

My name is Sam.

Uncle Sam DiamondWe’ve covered a lot of diamonds from Arkansas. Uncle Sam is the nickname for the largest diamond ever discovered in the United States. The diamond was named “Uncle Sam” after the nickname of its finder, Wesley Oley Basham, a worker at the Arkansas Diamond Corporation.

It was found in 1924 Prairie Creek pipe mine in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, which later became known as the Crater of Diamonds State Park.

In the rough it weighed 40.23 carat. It was faceted twice by Schenck & Van Haelen of New York, a company which specialized in Arkansas diamonds, handling over 14,000. The company described those diamonds as being so hard that they could only be cut using powder of other Arkansas diamonds (this was before Canadian diamonds arrived ont he scene).

The final result was a 12.42 carat emerald-cut gem which ended up graded as an M color, clarity was VVS1.

The diamond was owned by the Peikin Jewelers of Fifth Avenue, New York. It was lent by Peikin to the American Museum of Natural History for temporary display and storage. In 1971 it was acquired by a Boston dealer, Sidney de Young, and sold for $150,000 to an anonymous private collector.

The discovery of Uncle Sam arguably rescued the Arkansas Diamond Corporation, which had a debt over US$276,470 by that time and was going to be shut down in the winter of 1924. The number of diamonds found on the surface was decreasing, and the cost of digging operations was estimated as higher than the expected diamond recovery. Not that the value of the diamond was sufficient to cover the debts, but the discovery lifted the spirits enough to keep the surface operations.

Currently, the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas is the only public diamond mine in the world. Over 75,000 diamonds have been found here since the opening of the park in 1906. The place where Uncle Sam was discovered is marked, and many additional diamonds have been found there and to this day people are crawling the dirt.



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