By Jennifer Heebner, Editor in Chief
At the 2023 Centurion jewelry show in Phoenix, Caroline Stanley had quite the accessory around her neck: the Esperanza Diamond, a rare D-color, internally flawless rock unearthed at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Ark. Stanley, the owner of marketing firm Red Jewel, which helps manage the Centurion show, doesn’t own the Diamond, but she was a walking billboard for the person looking to sell it.
Stanley was tapped by sister Laura Stanley, a personal jeweler and former staffer at her family’s now-defunct Stanley Jewelers Gemologist, from North Little Rock, Ark., to wear it at the high-end trade fair to gauge interest in its sale. Esperanza is currently owned by a private collector in the Little Rock area, who purchased it as an investment and unique piece of American history from its original owner.
“We are testing the waters to see if we can find someone interested in buying it,” says Laura about the Diamond, which she is helping to sell. Esperanza was custom cut and set in a one-of-a-kind design and has quite the backstory.
A Fantastic Find
In late June 2015, tourist Bobbie Oskarson of Longmont, Colo., stopped by the Arkansas park after a wedding. After paying her $8 entry fee to dig, she got to work on the 37-acre plot of land that’s a muddy—yet sparkling—mess after rain. Within 30 minutes, she found what turned out to be the most valuable Diamond ever found at the park: an 8.52 ct. (18 mm long) icicle-shape Diamond. Esperanza is Spanish for hope, which is the name of a beloved niece of Oskarson’s.
After the find, Oskarson sought out assistance from Neil Beaty, an Independent Certified Gemologist Appraiser from the American Gem Society, to assess it. What exactly had she found, and how valuable was it?
A battery of tests took place on the Diamond. Among them were optical, laser 3D, and Raman scans. Within two months, the Diamond had journeyed through eight states and multiple jewelry professionals’ hands for scrutiny. The result of all the attention showed that the rough Diamond was a type IIa—the rarest and cleanest of all—and was internally flawless. (The Diamond was graded by both AGS Laboratories and the Gemological Institute of America.)
Next, the rough went to cutter Mike Botha of Embee Diamond Technologies, who created a new cut to best showcase the long slender stone, dubbing it the triolette.
“It’s three-fold symmetry of 7 x 7 facets,” Botha wrote in an article for the International Gem Society. “It has 147 facets in total with two culets, three keels, and no table. A unique design for a unique Diamond that shows off the color and transparency from every direction while preserving as much weight as possible.”
There was so much excitement surrounding the stone that Botha even packed up his cutting equipment and brought it to the Stanley store (prior to its closure) to stage a live spectacle: one extra-special cutting event in store. According to Botha, television crews, politicians, Oskarson, Beaty, media, and myriad other interested parties were present for the 180-hour job.
The finished stone was then set by Byard Brogan into a custom design dreamed up by Ian Douglas of Inspired Jewelry. The pendant necklace features Esperanza in a tension setting to encourage 180-degree viewing. The final version of Esperanza weighs 4.605 carats, and the setting is platinum.
Worth & Sale
Esperanza was initially valued at $1 million by industry experts, and the necklace went on a nationwide tour at some of the U.S.’s top jewelry stores, including the historic Black Starr & Frost, with locations in Newport Beach, Calif., and Phoenix. Accent Diamonds on the necklace are Canadian in origin and were cut and polished by Canadian firm Sirius Star.
For sure, Esperanza is a record breaker in America’s Diamond history. More than 75,000 Diamonds have been unearthed at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. The largest Diamond ever found was a 16.37 ct. stone discovered in 1975. Esperanza ranks as the 5th largest Diamond found at the park since its opening in 1972 and ranks as its most valuable.
The Arkansas owner of Esperanza is offering the necklace for sale at $550,000. Interested in owning this storied American rock? Reach Laura Stanley at [email protected].
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