The mining company announced late Monday that Graff Diamonds, the London-headquartered company headed by billionaire diamantaire Laurence Graff (no relation to the author), has paid $53 million for the tennis ball-sized stone.
That works out to $47,777 per carat and is $17 million less than what Lucara originally aimed to get for the diamond when it put it up for auction in June 2016, though Lucara President and CEO William Lamb noted that $53 million is more than the highest bid received at the auction.
In the news release issued Monday, Graff called the purchase of Lesedi La Rona a “momentous day” in his career.
“We are thrilled and honored to become the new custodians of this incredible diamond. The stone will tell us its story, it will dictate how it wants to be cut, and we will take the utmost care to respect its exceptional properties. This is a momentous day in my career, and I am privileged to be given the opportunity to honor the magnificent natural beauty of Lesedi La Rona,” he said.
Graff Diamonds already owns a 373.72-carat chunk that broke off the Lesedi La Rona. The company paid $17.5 million for that rough diamond ($46,827 per carat) at Lucara’s exceptional stone tender held in May. Lucara recovered the Lesedi La Rona, a Type IIa diamond that actually totaled 1,111 carats before cleaning, at its Karowe mine in Botswana in November 2015.
The citizens of Botswana participated in a naming contest after the diamond was found. Its name means “our light” in Setswana.
Lesedi La Rona is the second largest rough diamond ever found, topped only by the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond unearthed in South Africa in January 1905.
On Monday, Lamb called the discovery of the stone a “company-defining event” for Lucara and said: “We took our time to find a buyer who would take the diamond through its next stage of evolution. Graff Diamonds is now the owner of the Lesedi La Rona as well as the 373-carat diamond … We are excited to follow these diamonds through the next stage of their journey.”
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RAPAPORT... Gem Diamonds has recovered a “high-quality” rough diamond weighing 126 carats at its Letšeng mine, following a switch to a more lucrative section of the project in Lesotho, the company reported Thursday.
The D-color, type-IIa stone is the latest in a string of large discoveries at the mine, which is known for its high-value rough production. Last month, the company found a 104.73-carat, D-color, type IIa diamond and a 151.52-carat yellow diamond. In April and May, Gem Diamonds found three D-color, type IIa rough diamonds weighing 80.58 carats, 98.42 carats and 114 carats respectively.
Gem Diamonds shifted focus to the higher-grade K6 portion of Letšeng’s main pipe in the second quarter, enabling a higher rate of large-diamond discoveries, the company explained in May. This followed a slowdown in 2016, when it unearthed only five stones of 100 carats or more, dragging revenues down by 22%.
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — The recent find of a mammoth diamond the size of a hockey puck has everyone in this small West African nation wondering how big a fortune it will fetch.
Giddy talk about the gem's worth is providing a needed uplift in a country long plagued by misfortunes that include a deadly Ebola epidemic in 2013-16 and a decade-long civil war that broke out in 1991.
Even diamonds have a bad connotation here. Smugglers took advantage of the country's abundance of precious stones to sell them illegally and help finance that brutal conflict. The gems gained the name "blood diamonds" and inspired the 2006 movie Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
“This diamond makes me happy even though I am not the owner,” said Mohamed Bangura, 28, a bartender on popular Lumley beach. “When I saw it being displayed on national TV by the president, I felt good that after all these years, our country is making headlines again for a good reason.”
Now on a recent sunny day, people on the beach enjoy picnics and discuss how local Pastor Emmanuel Momoh found the huge diamond in May in his small mining plot in Kono, in the east. Mining is a common alternative to subsistence farming in this impoverished country.
Following a law passed to curb diamond smuggling, the pastor handed the diamond, dubbed the "Transparent Gem," to the government, which is supposed to sell it and give the proceeds to him after collecting a 3% tax.
“My fear is, how will the money be shared and spent?” Bangura asked. “Diamonds worth millions of U.S. dollars have been smuggled before and nothing happened.”
A few days before the new gem was put on auction, the diamond-mining firm Lucara sold an 813-carat diamond for $63 million in London. But the top offer for the Transparent Gem was only $7.8 million at a May auction. The government rejected the bid.
“The next step is to call for an international bidding to be held either in Tel Aviv or Antwerp to ensure the right price is paid,” government spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay said, referring to major diamond centers in Israel and Belgium.
Since then, the government has refused to answer questions about the diamond. That has led to much speculation about the sale and what happens next.
Cecilia Mattia, national coordinator for a mining watchdog group, said the country's diamond wealth often has led to tragedy: Thousands have died because of illegal trade, and rebels started the civil war by seizing mining regions.
“Diamonds and other minerals have not been very helpful to Sierra Leone for some obvious reasons,” Mattia said.
Now some hope diamonds can benefit the country.
“Our district lacks good roads, no electricity and no water,” said Fanday Musa, 25, a taxi-motorcycle driver in Kono, where the pastor found the stone.
The civil war destroyed Kono and left 50,000 dead nationwide. Musa hoped Momoh, the pastor, would spend his fortune from the diamond in his community. The churchman's mines employ a handful of men, providing crucial jobs for Kono.
“It’s a shame,” Musa said. “The name Kono is known worldwide, but on reaching here you will see the deplorable ruins left behind by the war. I hope the blessing of this gem will give a face lift to my town.”
Momoh believes he and his fellow citizens will receive their windfall soon.
“I am very satisfied," he said about giving the diamond to the authorities. "I am looking forward to the government working on how to sell the diamond in the interest of Sierra Leone.”
Others were impatient. “I want this diamond to be sold now,” said taxi driver Mohamed Sall, 34, of Bo South, an inland city. “Our country needs the money badly.”
Government officials counsel patience. “In the 1990s, our country was known for blood diamonds,” said Bayraytay, the government spokesman. “This is now a golden opportunity to let the world know that Sierra Leone is back on track. This diamond will help us achieve that.”
Some also hope the diamond heals the nation after Ebola.
“This is the first time since my adult life a diamond has been given this kind of attention,” said Ramatu Turay, 35, a street vendor in Port Loko, a northern district. “I lost relatives to Ebola in 2014. But this diamond is a way of wiping tears from Sierra Leone."
London--The owner of a diamond ring long believed to be an essentially worthless piece of costume jewelry saw the ring sell for more than $800,000 on Wednesday at Sotheby’s London.
The buyer, who wishes to remain anonymous, paid 10 British pounds (about $13) for the ring in the 1980s, buying it at a car-boot sale, a sale where people look to offload unwanted items out of the trunks of their cars.
She wore it for decades to do chores and run errands, unaware that what she was wearing wasn’t a piece of cheap glass but a big, high-quality diamond. The stone’s old-fashioned cut and dark setting (it was set in a silver mounting that had tarnished) were likely why the ring’s owner didn’t know what she had, Sotheby’s said prior to the sale.
Then, one day, a local jeweler spotted the ring on the woman’s finger and, thinking it could be a real diamond, suggested she get it appraised.
She did and it turned out the jeweler was right--it was a real diamond, a 26.29-carat cushion-shaped stone graded as I color and VVS2 clarity by the Gemological Institute of America.
The diamond dates to the 19th century, though nothing is known of its history prior to its purchase in the 1980s.
At Sotheby’s Fine Jewels sale held Wednesday in London, a buyer paid 656,750 British pounds (including buyer’s premium), or about $851,000, for the ring.
It was the top item in the sale, topping its highest pre-sale estimate by $400,000.
The buyer of the ring, which Sotheby’s referred to as the “Tenner” diamond because of the original price paid (10 British pounds), was identified by the auction house only as a member of the international trade.
Sotheby’s Fine Jewels sale totaled 5.2 million British pounds ($6.7 million) and was 80 percent sold by lot.
The second highest-grossing lot of the sale was a Cartier diamond brooch that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wore on a number of high-profile public occasions, including the day she offered her resignation to the queen.
The brooch sold for 81,250 British pounds ($105,308), more than three times its highest pre-sale estimate. Proceeds from its sale will go to the Endeavour fund, a charity that supports the recovery of wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.
The 92.15-carat diamond, which was mounted in a necklace, achieved $162,611 per carat, falling within its pre-sale estimate of $14.1 million to $20.2 million. The piece, dubbed “La Légende,” was a creation of Boehmer et Bassenge, a high-end maison launched last year and named after 18th-century Parisian jewelers Charles Boehmer and Paul Bassenge.
Other sales at the auction included a ring set with diamonds and an oval-cut, 15.03-carat ruby, which garnered $12.9 million. Separately, a cushion-shaped, 7.97-carat, fancy intense blue, VS1-clarity diamond went for $12.7 million, or $1.6 million per carat.
The Magnificent Jewels auction recorded total proceeds of $95 million (CHF 93.1 million) including buyer’s premiums. It came a day after rival Sotheby’s sold $151.5 million of jewelry at its Geneva event, headlined by a pair of earrings that fetched a record $57.4 million, or $2.9 million per carat.
Despite a market that accounts for more than a third of global demand for the gemstone, the U.S. does not have any significant natural diamond resources within its geographical borders. Instead, Russia supplied about a third of the total carats mined in 2015.
Diamond production levels have remained steady in recent years, but industry analysts have predicted a dip in demand due in part to shifting preferences among millennials. The generation is getting married later, if at all, and has unique preferences.
In October, the Diamond Producers Association – a group of seven major diamond retailers, including De Beers and Canada's Lucara – launched an advertising campaign targeting millennial consumers called "Real Is Rare." The industry organization, founded in 2015, even got celebrity Nick Cannon involved.
But diamonds may not be as rare as the trade organization makes them out to be. After a drop in production between 2008 and 2009, more than 120 million carats of diamond have been produced each year by a handful of countries, largely concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, there are also "substantial" reserves of the gemstone around the world.
Here are the countries that produced the most diamonds in 2015, according to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, a collaboration among government and industry organizations.
|Country||Diamond Production in 2015 (in carats)||Average Value Per Carat|
|Dem. Rep. of Congo||16.0 million||$8|
|South Africa||7.2 million||$193|
While fine jewelry is usually high in monetary value, what often makes it exceptional is that it’s steeped in significance. A piece of jewelry frequently has a particular aura that does not fade; it is with it that we mark the milestones of our lives—engagement, marriage, friendships, parenthood, birthdays, travels, traditions, and love.
Jewelry, some argue, emblematizes the sublime.
When we consider some of the materials jewelry is made with—metals derived from the earth’s crust and gemstones, which, like crystals, have significant metaphysical properties—it’s hard to deny the cosmic allure.
These materials have been honored, according to Maria Leach’s Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend, “back beyond recorded history.” Ancient Roman texts note that Cupid’s arrows were tipped with magical diamonds. In Eastern narratives, dragons were often depicted with flaming, wish-granting pearls under their chins or in their claws. In early written accounts, people adorned themselves with feathers, bones, shells, and colored pebbles. We now, of course, refer to these arrangements of naturally occurring materials as jewelry—and now, the colored pebbles are known as gemstones.
Here, a look at the history of some favorite gemstones and their mythological meanings.
In Sanskrit, the word for ruby is ratnaraj, or “king of precious stones.” In ancient Hinduism, it was believed by some that those who offered fine rubies to the god Krishna could be reborn as emperors. Rubies were divided into four castes. The Brahmin, for example, granted the advantage of perfect safety. The stone is also mentioned at least four times in the Bible, usually as a representative of beauty and wisdom. Numerous early cultures believed, because of the stone’s likeness to the color of blood, that rubies held the power of life. Among European royalty and the upper classes, rubies were thought to guarantee good health, wealth, wisdom, and success in love. They’ve became some of the most sought-after gems.
Lapis lazuli has always been associated with royalty and deities, and it may be where the idea of royal blue came from. Egyptians believed that it came from the heavens and provided protection in the afterlife, so they used it in their statues of the gods, in totemic objects, in jewelry, and in burial masks. In the epic poem Gilgamesh, Sumerians spent years traveling from one end of Asia to the other in order to mine and obtain the stone. Lapis is included in numerous other myths but has served practical purposes as well: Ancient Egyptians used it to create blue cosmetics, and during the Renaissance, painters ground the
The oval-shaped 59.6 carat stone was bought after just five minutes' bidding at Sotheby's, reports said.
It is the largest polished diamond in its class to go under the hammer.
It sold for $83m in Geneva in 2013 but the buyer later defaulted. The record until now was held by the Oppenheimer Blue, which sold for $50m last May.
Bidding for the gem, which was found by De Beers at a mine in Africa in 1999 and cut over a period of two years, began at $56m.
Sotheby's said the buyer was Hong Kong jewellery retailer Chow Tai Fook Jewellery.
Alexander Breckner, head of diamonds at jewellers "77 Diamonds", told the BBC that the stone was exceptional.
"It's the largest pink diamond ever found in the history of humankind. It's an incredible colour to it.
"And the sheer size of the stone already makes it so rare and so beautiful."
Follow this link to see a photo gallery that depicts a visual journey -- from the origins of where one of the world's rarest and largest diamonds was unearthed, to how it formed the core of an absurdly lavish necklace, made of 11,551 diamonds and hundreds of pieces of jade and jadeite. The piece was designed as a collaboration between jewelry designer Wallace Chan and Hong Kong's largest jewelry retailer, Chow Tai Fook.