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World's most expensive rough diamond sells for $63m

May 09 2016 10:43
Kevin Crowley and Thomas Biesheuvel

Johannesburg - Lucara Diamond sold an 813-carat jewel for $63m, making it the most expensive rough gem on record and raising the prospects for the sale of the Lesedi la Rona, the world’s second-biggest such stone that was unearthed last year.

The sale of The Constellation was worth $77 649 a carat and Lucara will retain a 10% interest in the net profit received in the polished products, the Vancouver-based company said in a statement on Monday. The stone was bought by Nemesis International DMCC, a Dubai-based rough-diamond trading company.

READ: Largest diamond found in 100 years named

Both diamonds were recovered from Lucara’s Karowe mine in Botswana, which is gaining a reputation for producing the world’s biggest and best stones. The 1 109-carat Lesedi la Rona, just smaller than a tennis ball, was the largest diamond discovery for more than 100 years and the stone is second in size only to the Cullinan, cut into the Great Star of Africa gem in the British Crown jewels.

“This is a great result for Lucara and should only add to the fevered expectations around the auction of Lesedi la Rona,” said Edward Sterck, a London-based analyst at BMO Capital Markets. “The $63m price achieved is above our expectations.”

The record price provides further evidence that the world’s biggest and rarest diamonds are more resilient after prices for rough diamonds - what mined gems are called before they’re cut and polished - slumped 18% last year, the most since the financial crisis in 2008, amid lower demand and an industrywide credit crunch.

READ: 'Blue Moon Diamond' sells for record R686m

Applying the same dollar per carat implies a so-called floor price of $86m for the Lesedi la Rona, according to Sterck. The sale of The Constellation will take place at Sotheby’s in London on June 29.

“We look forward to the next stage of Lucara’s development with the sale of the spectacular 1 109 carat, Lesedi la Rona diamond,” Lucara chief executive officer William Lamb said in the statement.

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.

wealth  |  diamonds  |  mining
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