1,109-Carat Lesedi La Rona Diamond: Rough Gem Sells For $53M

by Samuel Abasi Posted on September 27th, 2017

After going a year unsold, 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona diamond, the biggest gem found in a Century finally sold for $53 Million, or $47,777 a carat, on Monday to Graff Diamonds, Vancouver-based Lucara Diamond Corporation said in a statement. While Lesedi La Rona diamond is significantly bigger than the 813-carat Constellation stone Lucara found at the same time, that stone sold for a record $63 million, or about $77,500 a carat.

Guards stand next to the 1109-carat rough Lesedi La Rona diamond at Sotheby’s in New York, on May 4, 2016.

BMO Capital Markets had forecast that Lesedi, or “our light” in the Tswana language spoken in Botswana, ,    which went unsold at a Sotheby’s auction in London last year, could sell for $75 million.

“If you take the potential outcomes from the stone into consideration, the risk that the buyer is actually taking, you can now see why it wasn’t the easiest one to sell,” Lucara Chief Executive Officer William Lamb told reporters.

The Lesedi, just smaller than a tennis ball, is second in size only to the Cullinan, a 3,106-carat gem found in South Africa in 1905. The Cullinan was cut to form the Great Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa, which are set in the Crown Jewels of Britain.

Photo: 1109-carat rough Lesedi La Rona diamond at Sotheby’s in New York, on May 4, 2016

In last year’s Sotherby’s auction, there was only one offer, which was lower than the amount paid by Graff. At the time, the auction house itself bid $61 million as it sought to move the stone closer toward the reserve price, which didn’t happen, Lamb said.

Lucara, known for producing some of the world’s biggest and best stones, unearthed the diamond at its Karowe mine in Botswana. The company, which carries no debt, must now decide what to do with the proceeds.

“It does lead down the path of are we going to have a special dividend?” Lamb said. “That’s completely down to the discretion of the board.”

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