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MURFREESBORO, Ark. – A Washington man mining for natural resources in order to craft an engagement ring himself found a 2.2 carat yellow diamond earlier this month while sifting through gravel at Arkansas’ Crater of Diamonds State Park.

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Christian Liden, 26, spent five years panning for gold in Washington state before he found enough raw materials for a ring. He then started mining for gem stones.

Liden and a friend left Washington May 1 and first stopped in Montana to mine for sapphires. On May 7, they arrived at the Arkansas park known for its diamonds. They spent an hour the first day and returned the next morning to mine all day. On their third day, Liden found what he was looking for.

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“I saw it shining as soon as I turned the screen over and immediately knew it was a diamond. I was shaking so bad, I asked my buddy to grab it out of the gravel for me,” he said.

He took his find to the park’s Diamond Discovery Center where they confirmed the triangular stone with a metallic luster was a 2.2 carat yellow diamond, the largest gemstone found there since October. Those who find diamonds at the park typically name them. Liden called his Washington Sunshine.

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“As beautiful as this diamond is, I think the best part is the story behind it,” said Dru Edmonds, park assistant superintendent. “Since the eighth grade, Mr. Liden has dreamed of creating a special ring for his future wife, with stones and gold he mined, himself. And now he can make that dream come true.”

Park visitors on average find one or two diamonds daily at the park. Diamonds at the park are found in white, brown and yellow colors. Visitors have found 121 diamonds so far this year.

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“I was just hoping to find a couple smaller stones and had planned to buy a center stone later, but that won’t be needed now,” Liden said.

Liden plans to mine for opals in Nevada on his way home.