Sold! 'Tennis ball-sized' diamond fetches $66M at auction
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Tuesday, September 26, 2017 8:55AM EDT
A tennis ball-sized rough diamond, said to be the second largest gem-quality example ever found, fetched nearly $66 million (US$53 million) for a Vancouver-based diamond producer on Monday.
Lucara Diamond Corp. unearthed the 1,109 carat Lesedi La Rona stone at its Karowe mine in Botswana nearly two years ago. The new owner, London-based multinational jeweler Graff Diamonds, paid nearly $60,000 per carat (US$47,777).
The price tag is an improvement on a previous high bid for the diamond at a Sotheby’s auction in June of last year, according to Lucara CEO William Lamb.
“We took our time to find a buyer who would take the diamond through its next stage of evolution,” he said in a media release following the sale. “The discovery of the Lesedi La Rona was a company defining moment for Lucara.”
Laurence Graff said becoming the “custodian” of the “magnificent natural beauty” marks a momentous day in his career, too.
“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,” he said.
Graff Diamonds’ purchase of the Lesedi La Rona will reunite it with a 373-carat part of the original stone, which the company purchased earlier this year.
The name Lesedi La Rona means “our light” in the Tswana language spoken where the diamond was found in Botswana.
While the gem’s discovery dazzled the gemological world following its November 2015 discovery, it also caused a stir on Bay Street.
In the days before the diamond was discovered, Lucara’s stock price hovered near $1.60. Shares surged to around $2.20 the day after the announcement, eventually peaking near $4 last August. Lucara shares fell 1.71 per cent to $2.30 at Monday’s close.
The president of Vancouver Diamonds, a wholesaler based on B.C.’s Lower Mainland, expects Graff Diamonds will keep the Lesedi La Rona as intact as possible.
“What they want to do is maximize the most amount of money they can get out of that rough (diamond),” Josh Raber told CTV Vancouver. “They want to keep it as big as possible, but who knows how big of a diamond they can actually cut at the end of the day.”
With a file from CTV Vancouver