Diamond in the rough

Tribune Staff • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:52 PM

“I saw it just on the ground,” she said. “I picked it up and held it tight.”

After taking the stone to a Crater of Diamonds’ geologist that fateful day, Bleigh was told she had found an 11-point yellow diamond. Nothing could surmount her excitement for the find.

“I felt like I was on the 'Wheel of Fortune' or something,” Bleigh said.

Arkansas’ Crater of Diamonds State Park is a 37-acre eroded surface of an ancient volcanic crater.  The volcano erupted about 100 million years ago, bringing diamonds to the surface.

In 2012, some 530 people met with success in their diamond-hunting ventures in this area. Jeanne remembers seeing people from all across the map — from Indiana to Texas — searching for diamonds while she was there on a trip with her husband, Rick, a Muskegon police officer.

 “We were the farthest people from home, though,” Bleigh said.

Bleigh and her husband made the trip for her 50th birthday, after years of wanting to go digging for diamonds. Upon finding the diamond on her birthday, Bleigh had no problem telling the media about all she’s gone through to make it to 50 and go to the park.

“I’m proud to have made it this far,” Bleigh said.

Early in her life, Bleigh learned she had an auto-immune disease that was attacking her kidneys.

“You know it’s a possibility, but you don’t think it’s going to happen to you,” she said.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

— By Ashlee Shelley, Tribune intern

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