The world’s second-largest rough diamond, the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona, is too big to sell as-is and would have to be cut before it faces the auction block, a leading auction house recommended.
The gem was discovered by Canada’s Lucara Diamond Corp in Botswana in 2015, but failed to sell in all its full glory at a Sotheby’s auction last year. Bidding for the tennis ball-size gem stalled at $61 million – short of the $70 million it was expected to fetch, Mining.com reported.
Lucara CEO William Lamb said his company was in no rush to cut the exquisite diamond, believed to be 3 billion years old, saying the polishing process itself was not without its risks.
“It’s only the second stone recovered in the history of humanity over 1,000 carats. Why would you want to polish it? The stone in the rough form contains untold potential. As soon as you polish it into one solution, everything else is gone,” Lamb said.
Diamond experts were at odds on what the future should hold for the unique gem.
Rare Diamond House director Oded Mansori, for example, believes it would be a mistake for Lucara to hold onto the massive rough diamond, citing sizeable finds by several industry players such as Gem Diamonds and Petra; while others believe the Lesedi La Rona (“our light”) is simply too massive to sell in its current form.
“When is a diamond too big? I think we have found that when you go above 1,000 carats, it is too big – certainly from the aspect of analyzing the stones with the technology available,” mining analyst Kieron Hodgson said.
“At the end of the day, it’s about understanding what the stone can produce. And the industry now doesn’t work on hunches as much as it used to 20-30 years ago.”
Still, according to the report, Lucara’s sales remain healthy. The company has so far sold 145 diamonds at more than $1 million each, including a 373.7-carat gem that broke off from Lesedi la Rona, which sold for $17.5 million in May.