|The Lesedi la Rona|
Could the Brexit have played a role in this?
Whatever the reason, the “Lesedi la Rona,” a 1,109-carat uncut diamond, failed to sell during a stand-alone auction, held Wednesday at Sotheby’s London. It is the world’s largest gem-quality rough diamond to be discovered in more than a century and the largest rough diamond in existence today. However, it failed to meet its reserve price. The bidding stalled at $61 million. Its estimate was $70 million.
“Sadly it was not sold but it is a magnificent stone, one of the greatest stones ever discovered,” said David Bennett, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery Division.
Bidding opened at $50 million and moved up by $1 million increments at a steady pace until reaching $61 million, as seen through the auction house’s streaming video feed from its London facility. The total sale lasted fewer than 15 minutes.
The auction was conducted in US dollars as opposed to British pounds sterling, even though the sale was held in London. Again, perhaps the instability of the British currency was the reason.
Prior to the auction Bennett described the reaction from some of the potential buyers who viewed the diamond. “I’ve seen grown men with tears in their eyes believe it or not.”
It’s rare for a rough diamond to be sold at auction, much less a standalone auction. The only other items at bid prior to the Lesedi la Rona, were three rough diamonds being sold for charity.
Most rough diamonds are sold privately to those experienced with cutting gems. It appears this diamond will now go through these more traditional channels.
The gem is around the size of a tennis ball with “exceptional transparency and quality” and is around 2.5 to more than 3 billion years old, the auction house said. It was unearthed in November 2015 by Lucara Diamond Corp., a Canadian diamond mining company, at its Karowe mine in Botswana.
Its name means “Our Light” in the Tswana language spoken in Botswana.
It’s been more than 100 years since a diamond of this size and quality of the Lesedi La Rona has been found. Its size is exceeded only by the legendary Cullinan Diamond, mined in South Africa in 1905. The 3,016.75-carat diamond produced nine major diamonds that are part of the historic Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, including the Great Star of Africa—considered to be the largest top-quality polished diamond in existence, weighing 530.20 carats.
The Gemological Institute of America said the Lesedi La Rona’s “top color and transparency exemplify the ‘limpid’ appearance commonly associated with type IIa diamonds,” which accounts for fewer than 2 percent of all gem-quality diamonds.
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