Dan Fagnan's friends think he's "a fruit loop" for panning for gold near his home in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, but when the amateur prospector recently scooped up a 1.22-carat diamond, his unusual hobby finally paid off.
As Fagnan told the Pierce County Herald, he initially thought the irregularly shaped transparent stone was a piece of glass. He found it in a wet pile of sand and rocks excavated from 120 feet below the surface by a friend who was digging a well and invited him to sift through it.
Fagnan had hoped to find a few tiny flakes of "Wisconsin gold," which isn't worth much. When he found the interesting stone instead, he took it to jeweler Karen Greaton in New Richmond, to find out what he had dug up.
Greaton thought it might be moissanite, or silicon carbide, but after tests and a consultation with a mineralogist, she was convinced it was indeed a diamond.
“My dad told me it’s unlikely to find a diamond here, but diamonds can actually be found anywhere in the world,” Greaton told the newspaper, noting that what was once considered nature's hardest substance is often formed near volcanoes. She said it's possible the Wisconsin rock was pushed south from Canada during the Ice Age.
Fagnan has asked Greaton to set the stone in a necklace for his soon-to-be-born child.