1109-carat diamond expected to sell for $70 million-plus

May 5, 2016

lesediA tennis ball-size rough diamond will go on the auction block as a standalone sale in London next month.

Sotheby’s says the 1109-carat ‘Lesedi la Rona,’ which is the largest gem-quality rough diamond to be discovered in more than a century and the largest rough diamond in existence today, is expected to fetch over $70 million U.S. The sale will be held June 29.

Meaning ‘Our Light’ in the Tswana language spoken in Botswana, ‘Lesedi la Rona’ was unearthed by Vancouver-based Lucara Diamond Corp., last November at its Karowe mine. Measuring approximately 66.4 x 55 x 42 mm, the diamond is of exceptional transparency and quality.

“The ‘Lesedi la Rona’ is simply outstanding; its discovery is the find of a lifetime,” said David Bennett, worldwide chair of Sotheby’s jewellery division.

“It is a huge honour for Sotheby’s to have been entrusted with its sale. Every aspect of this auction is unprecedented. Not only is the rough superlative in size and quality, but no rough even remotely of this scale has ever been offered before at public auction.”

In terms of its size, the rough is exceeded only by the 3016.75-carat Cullinan Diamond, mined in South Africa in 1905.

According to Gemological Institute of America (GIA), ‘Lesedi la Rona’s’ “top colour and transparency exemplify the ‘limpid’ appearance commonly associated with Type IIa diamonds,” a rare and coveted subgroup comprising less than 2 per cent of all gem diamonds.

Independent reports on the potential yield of the rough concluded ‘Lesedi la Rona’ may be the largest top-quality diamond that has ever been cut and polished. Further, the reports state there is a high probability the resulting polished diamonds will be D colour.

“We are very excited to be partnering with Sotheby’s on this landmark auction,” said Lucara president and CEO William Lamb.

“Lucara has made innovation the cornerstone of its development strategy and this has led to the historic recovery of the ‘Lesedi la Rona’ diamond. The forthcoming sale offers a unique opportunity to present this extraordinary diamond to a worldwide audience.”

The diamond will be on view at Sotheby’s New York on May 7 and at Sotheby’s London from June 18 to 28.

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