The Punch Jones Diamond

October 7, 2013 |

by Aaron Williams

The Punch Jones diamond is a 34.46 carat diamond, named after the boy who discovered it in 1928 while he and his father were pitching horseshoes at their home outside Peterstown, WV.

For most of its course through West Virginia, US 219 borders rivers and creeks— The North Fork of the Blackwater, The Shavers Fork of the Cheat, Tygart, Elk, Greenbrier, Indian, and finally, it meets its terminus at Rich Creek, VA, where just miles away, a 34.46 carat diamond was discovered, washed up along the riverbed. As a young boy, Punch Jones found a very large, translucent rock which his horseshoe pried loose from the earth. He took it home and stored it in a shoebox. When he was drafted in WWII, Punch left the strange looking rock at his home in a shoebox. In 1944, he was killed in action in the war.

There are two remarkable points that must be known about this story—the first is that that Punch Jones had 16 brothers, and one sister. The parents encouraged all of their children to pursue higher education, and all of Punch’s surviving siblings became teachers, lawyers or professionals, nearly all of them obtained advanced degrees. The size of the family impressed Franklin D. Roosevelt, who invited them to the New York World’s Fair in 1940.

The second point of interest is the diamond itself. After Punch was killed in the war, one of his brothers brought the stone to be tested by a geologist, and it was found to be a remarkable diamond in very good condition. In fact, it’s the largest of its kind in North America. Senator Robert C. Byrd remarked in a 1963 Newspaper Column, “If a lucky horseshoe can turn up a 35 Caret gem, who can say what systematic diamond hunting might discover in West Virginia!”

The family lent the diamond to the Smithsonian Museum to be displayed for a time, and for a number of years visitors to the West Virginia State Fair in Lewisburg even had a glimpse of the diamond. But in the early 1980s, the Punch Jones diamond was sold to an anonymous buyer through a Sotheby auction in New York. The exact whereabouts of the Punch Jones Diamond, or the price that the diamond raised, is not commonly known outside of the Jones family, who say they would rather forget they ever saw the diamond and they do not wish to speak of it. A historic marker is present near the site where the diamond originally turned up, just off US 219 in Peterstown, WV. A diner, called the Hometown Restaurant, located in an adjacent shopping center, serves very inexpensive and very popular meals and deserts, and the remaining Jones siblings may just turn up there for a meal from time to time. (304) 753-478. For information about traveling to other sites throughout Monroe County, click here. 


1. Carl E. Feather, “The Jones Diamond: Mixed Blessings for a Peterstown Family,”  Goldenseal Magazine 34:4 (Winter 2008), 18.

2.  Senator Robert C. Byrd, “The ‘Lost’ Mother Lode of Appalachian Diamonds,” Byrd’s Eye View: From the office of United States Senator Robert. C. Byrd. Volume III – Number 50 (December 1963.)

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Category: Lewisburg to Rich Creek, Stories & Legends

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