Lights out for the Lesedi La Rona

Lights out for the Lesedi La Rona

The diamond which has made not only headlines but history as the largest diamond discovered in more than a century, failed to sell at Sotheby’s London, despite a $70m estimate. Unearthed in Botswana in November last year by Lucara Diamond Corp., the 1,109 carat rough diamond known as Lesedi La Rona, which means Our Light in the Tswana language of Botswana, is the second largest diamond ever discovered. At the auction held on 29 June, the final bid came in at $61m – far under the reserve price – failing to secure the stone. During the last few minutes of the auction, the head of Sotheby’s International Jewellery Division, David Bennett tried to solicit a higher bid without success.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby's

Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s

Given that it is the second largest rough of gem quality ever to be found (The Cullinan was the largest), and its smaller cousin, the Constellation from the same mine in Botswana sold in May 2016 for $63m, this diamond, which is 36% bigger than the Constellation, should have far exceeded the Constellation’s per carat price of $77.6k, reaching at least $86m to match, explains managing director Tobias Kormind. “Perhaps diamond cutters have assessed the rough and aren’t convinced they can get a large enough single diamond out of it to make it worth a higher price.”

“Yet this contradicts pre-auction rumours that the rough is likely to yield a 400+ct D Flawless diamond, which would be the largest purest diamond in existence and likely to fetch in excess of $200m (larger than the current record holder – The Centenary Diamond, a 273ct Heart Shaped D Flawless stone),” he clarifies.

So, the world is left wondering what will happen to the diamond now: “Lucara will need to wait and then go back to the diamond polishers to try to sell it privately. The format of a public auction will probably not be used any time soon to sell another large rough. The market may have reached a tipping point and demand for large rare stones might just be saturated or the market instability with Brexit may have just caused this to be a case of bad timing.” Whatever may come of the diamond, one cannot deny the finding has been historical and fascinating to follow.

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