It was a rough week for the second-largest diamond ever unearthed – “Lesedi la Rona” – and for the company that unearthed it, as the remarkable stone failed to impress investors at a Sotheby’s auction.
“Lesedi la Rona” is the largest diamond discovered in more than a century. In size (the stone measures 6.5 cm by 5.6 cm by 4 cm) it is second only to the 3016.75-carat Cullinan Diamond, which was discovered in South Africa in 1905. The stone went under the auctioneer’s hammer at Sotheby’s in London on June 29, but the highest bid – $61 million – fell way short of the minimum the stone’s owner, Lucara Diamond Corp., has set for the gem.
According to Lucara CEO William Lamb, quoted in Huffington Post, the asking price was “slightly higher than the $70 million”. After his stone failed to sell, Lamb said: “We needed to assess whether there was a market where people who spend a hundred million dollars on a Picasso will actually see the value in a rough diamond.” They stone went “on tour” in Dubai, Hong Kong and New York to “reach the widest market possible” – diamond traders as well as wealthy individuals.
According to diamond analyst Paul Zimnisky, many potential buyers were likely scared off the hefty investment by the chaos that ensued after the UK referendum vote to leave the EU last week. “When you look at the potential bidders of a stone that’s close to a hundred million dollars,” Zimnisky told Huffington Post, “you know these are wealthy individuals and investors that have a lot of exposure to financial assets that sold off last week with that news.”
Lamb also acknowledged that the so-called “Brexit” may have been a factor: “It might have created a bit of uncertainty, a little bit of volatility, when people start to question whether it is going to have a major impact on the overall financials in maybe three to six months’ time,” said the CEO.
Concerning the fate of the precious “Lesedi la Rona”, Lamb concluded by saying that the gem will not be back to auction, but that there is “interest” from other private buyers.