Meet Waymon Cox
News of a record diamond find at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro made national and international headlines in 2015. The find, an 8.52-carat white diamond named “Esperanza,” was the fifth largest diamond found by a visitor since the state park was established in 1972. At the popular attraction, the world’s only diamond-producing site open to the public, visitors can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep what they find. Below, Park Interpreter Waymon Cox shares a few insights about working at the park, diamonds, and the “Esperanza.”
Arkansas.com: How long have you worked as a park interpreter at Crater of Diamonds State Park? What was your inspiration for working at this particular park?
Waymon Cox: I worked my first summer at Crater of Diamonds State Park in 2004 as a seasonal clerk at the park’s rock and mineral I.D. booth. After working as a seasonal clerk for two summers while in college and a seasonal interpreter for one summer, I was hired as one of the Crater’s full-time park interpreters in April 2008. While I was growing up, my family always took huge summer vacations all over the country, visiting national parks all along the way. I attended programs at many of these parks and thought working in a park would be a fun career option.
Arkansas.com: What is the most surprising fact about diamonds you have learned since working at the park?
Cox: I am always amazed by the beautiful appearance of many of our uncut diamonds. Unbroken diamond crystals from the Crater will have curved facets and a brilliant metallic shine. They have characteristics that make them easily identifiable and unique among most uncut diamonds in the world.
Arkansas.com: Speaking of diamonds, can you tell us a bit about the day the “Esperanza” diamond was found there? What was the atmosphere like there during this historic day for the park?
Cox: I had just finished examining a find from another visitor that turned out not to be a diamond when one of our clerks walked in holding a large crystal in her hand. I was standing several feet away and could see a shine on it immediately. After closer examination I could clearly see several curved facets, indicative of a diamond from here. The most unusual aspect of the diamond was its oblong shape. It almost looked like a very clean quartz crystal, but with many more facets. After weighing the diamond, we brought Ms. Bobbie Oskarson into the diamond registration area and gave her the exciting news that she had found the fifth-largest diamond registered since the Crater of Diamonds became an Arkansas State Park in 1972. Ms. Oskarson seemed to be in disbelief as she recounted the story of how she and her boyfriend had driven from Hot Springs earlier in the day to visit the park and initially didn’t know that they could search for diamonds here. About 20 minutes after walking into the search area, while digging through a mound of dirt in the southwest corner of the plowed field, Ms. Oskarson said she spotted the gem as it rolled out clean from the dirt. She showed it to her boyfriend, who recommended that she bring it to the Diamond Discovery Center to have it identified.
Arkansas.com: There were many interesting ties to this diamond. For instance, the public was invited to watch when the “Esperanza” was cut by master diamond cutter Mike Botha. What is your favorite aspect of the “Esperanza” diamond story?
Cox: I am amazed at the diamond cutting process and all that went into scientifically examining and evaluating the “Esperanza” to transform it into the beautiful gem that it is today.
Arkansas.com: Besides this diamond find, what has been your most memorable moment working at the park?
Cox: Registering the 8.66-carat white “Illusion Diamond,” found in April 2011. It is the 3rd-largest diamond found at the Crater of Diamonds since 1972, and I was the first person, other than the finder, to hold the diamond in my hands.
Arkansas.com: Do you search for diamonds at the park in your spare time?
Cox: The only time I search for diamonds is when I conduct diamond mining demonstrations at the park, usually five or six times a week.
Arkansas.com: Is there anything else you’d like to add about working at Crater of Diamonds State Park that I didn’t ask by chance?
Cox: Working at the Crater of Diamonds has shown me that this small park in southwest Arkansas is truly a world-famous destination. After all these years I am still amazed at the number of people who come from all over the world to experience the thrill of searching for diamonds.