Small Canadian mining firm finds massive diamond in Botswana – the largest recovered in more than a century
The 1,111 carat gem is the largest found in more than a century and second in size only to the Cullinan diamond that was cut into the Crown Jewels.
It was recovered at the Karowe Mine earlier this week along with a cache of other huge white diamonds, including both a 813 carat – which itself would have been a record-breaker – and a 374 carat stone.
Photo: Lucara Diamond Corp
Botswana is the world’s second biggest diamond producer, behind Russia,
“I am truly at a loss for words,” said William Lamb, CEO of the small Canadian mining firm, Lucara, that found the stone. ”We are truly blessed by this amazing asset.”
Shares in Lucara shot up as much as 37 per cent yesterday, despite the fact that a valuation is currently impossible.
Measuring 65mm x 56mm x 40mm, the exceptionally rare Type IIa diamond is around 1,000 times the size of the average engagement ring.
The diamond is so big, it will not fit into the scanner available to check its colour and clarity and will have to be taken to Antwerp to be properly assessed.
The cutting, polishing and eventual sale to a final owner may take many years. Antwerp and New York are the leading cutting centres for exceptional gems.
Photo: Lucara Diamond Corp
“The end-buyer will likely be an ultra-ultra high-net-worth diamond collector,” said Martin Potts, a London-based mining analyst at FinnCap Ltd. “There will be huge prestige in owning the largest diamond that’s not part of a royal collection.”
Last week, Hong Kong’s sixth richest man Joseph Lau paid 48.6 million Swiss francs (£32 million) at Sotheby’s in Geneva for a 12.03-carat blue diamond, the most spent on a jewel at auction. A day earlier, he paid £19 million francs for a 16.08- carat pink diamond. Both purchases were for his seven-year-old daughter.
Lucara installed new X-ray technology at Karowe mine last summer to help uncover very large stones. There were concerns in the industry that a modern processing plant could damage large diamonds, but Mr Lamb said it was clear the use of the technology had paid off.
“I don’t know if anybody, including us, understands what the resource could potentially do,” he told the Financial Post. “Now we have to sit back and ask if we could recover something larger.”
Security has been stepped up at Lucara, but it is not expected that the gem will have such an eventful journey to Europe as the Cullinan, the huge 3106.75 carat diamond that was found near Pretoria in South Africa in 1905.
After Winston Churchill had finally managed to persuade King Edward VII to accept the stone, in what was a very tense period following the end of the Second Boer War, authorities were faced with the dilemma of how to get it to London.
London policemen took a steamboat to South Africa to bring back the huge diamond. However, aware of criminal plots to stage an audacious robbery, they used the steamer as a diversion, with a fake stone, and sent the actual diamond in a plain box via registered parcel post.
It was cut to form the Great Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa, which are set in the Crown Jewels.
Churchill was given a replica for his efforts, which he displayed proudly.