The world’s second largest gem ever discovered goes by the name “Lesedi La Rona.” It means “Our Light” in Setswana, which is the official language of Botswana, located in Southern Africa.
Botswana has not only become one of the world’s leading producers of diamonds, but has also become a global diamond trader. Diamonds make up 60% of exports in Botswana.
Thought to be approximately 2.5 billion years old, the 1,109-carat gem was discovered in November of 2015 at The Karowe Diamond Mine in Botswana. The mine, which is expected to have about 15 years of production, is owned by Lucara Diamond, a Canadian based firm.
The “Lesedi La Rona” gemstone is a colorless Type-lla diamond, meaning that it is nearly or entirely free of impurities and is transparent. There are very few stones that qualify as a Type-lla diamond. The Cullinan Diamond and the Koh-I-Noor Diamond are two others in this category.
The Cullinan was discovered in Pretoria, South Africa in 1905, weighing 3,106 carats. It has since been cut into nine large pieces and many smaller pieces. Some of these pieces have been incorporated into Britain’s Crown Jewels in the Royal Scepter.
The discovery of the precious diamond, “Lesedi La Rona,” is the result of an alternative mining process that utilizes an x-ray transmission sensor device by TOMRA to discover stones before they are broken up in the mining process.
The Karowe Mine is said to be one of the pioneers in operating this technology, rather than the traditional drill and blast methods.
How Did It Get Its Name?
The newly discovered diamond was originally given a common name comprised of the mine and the pipe where it was discovered, Karowe AK6. In January 2016, the Chief Executive Officer of Lucara announced a contest opened to all Botswana citizens and the company’s employees. Any person who came up with the best name for the diamond would receive $2,200.
After receiving more than 11,000 emails in just one month, a name was chosen. The winner of the contest, who named the diamond “Lesedi La Rona”, explained that the name symbolized pride, light, and hope from the people of his country.
The Value of a Giant
The breakthrough of this colossal diamond had sky-rocketed Lucara Diamond’s stocks with collectors, investors, and auction houses that want to get their hands on the world’s largest uncut diamond.
Initially, the stone has could not be valued. This was mainly due to its massive size and its inability to fit into conventional scanners. Many experts had argued it could be sold for between $40-$60 million dollars. It had been confirmed that the company received a $40 million offer through e-mail, but declined.
Fast forward to 2016, the stone was put up for sale at an auction hosted by Sotheby’s but yielded 'only' $61million, failing to reach its $70 million asking price.
Fortunately for Laurence Graff, the diamond was put up for auction once again, and he was able to close the deal in September of this year, paying a still very respectable $53 million.
What Lies Ahead?
In a statement Laurence Graff was quoted saying "Our highly skilled team of master craftsmen will draw on many years of experience of crafting the most important diamonds, working night and day to ensure that we do justice to this remarkable gift from Mother Nature,".
As a veteran in the industry, he was also quite composed when it came to the way they would be transforming the stone. More specifically he stated "The stone will tell us its story, it will dictate how it wants to be cut, and we will take the utmost care to respect its exceptional properties."
Whichever the case, one thing is certain. The diamond is in exceptional hands and we truly cannot wait to see how it will be transformed.
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