A 1,111 carat gem-quality diamond, second in size only to the Cullinan diamond cut into the British Crown jewels, has been unearthed by Lucara Diamond Corp. in Botswana.
The Type-IIa stone, just smaller than a tennis ball, is the largest diamond discovery for more than 100 years, according to Vancouver-based Lucara. It was recovered by machines at the south lobe of Karowe mine in central Botswana, the company said in a statement.
“The significance of the recovery of a gem-quality stone larger than 1,000 carats, the largest for more than a century and the continued recovery of high-quality stones from the south lobe, cannot be overstated,” William Lamb, chief executive officer of Lucara, said in the statement.
Lucara’s Karowe mine in Botswana is rivaling Gem Diamonds Ltd.’s Letseng mine in Lesotho as a source of the world’s biggest and best stones. Gem Diamonds previously held the record for the largest discovered this century with the 603-carat Lesotho Promise.
The Lucara diamond. Photo/Lucaradiaomond.com
“It is almost impossible to estimate a value for such an extraordinary stone given that a valuation is highly dependent on the color, clarity and cutting and polishing characteristics,” Edward Sterck, a London-based analyst at BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a note Thursday.
Lucara sold a 341.9 carat Type-IIa diamond in July for $20.6m, or $60,000 a carat, Sterck said.
So far, the largest diamonds are resisting a price slump that has hit the wider industry. Prices for Gem Diamonds’ stones that are larger than 10 carats have fallen about 5 percent in the past year, Chief Executive Officer Clifford Elphick said last week. That compares with declines of as much as 30 percent for some smaller gems.
The biggest diamond discovered is the 3,106-carat Cullinan, found near Pretoria in South Africa in 1905. It was cut to form the Great Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa, which are set in the Crown Jewels of Britain.
Lucara also said it found two white diamonds, weighing 813 carats and 374 carats before cleaning at the same mine. (Bloomberg)