The Canadian Lucara mining company found the world’s largest diamond in more than a century this week.
The 1,111-carat gem was found in an open pit mine in central Botswana, by the Vancouver based firm.
William Lamb, the company’s chief executive, said Lucara has inquiries from potential buyers, but said it was impossible to price the diamond yet. The stone, the second largest ever recovered, was too large to fit inside the company’s own scanner, so it'll be transported to Antwerp to be valued.
It's likely to be auctioned once it has been prepared for sale. “People are still reeling from the fact that it’s over 1,000 carats,” Lamb said on Thursday.
The company’s share price rose 32% on the back of the news, adding about $150m to its market value.
The Lucara company had used an x-ray processing facility to reduce damage while recovering large diamonds. Had the Karowe mine – which is about 300 miles north of Botswana’s capital, Gaborone – used older equipment, the diamond might have been smashed to pieces along with the rubble removed from the pit. “It would have gone to the pebble crusher and it would have been destroyed,” said Lamb.
The diamond measures 6.5cm by 5.6cm by 4cm, and is second in size only to the 3,106-carat Cullinan diamond, which was unearthed near Pretoria, South Africa, in 1905. The carat calibration is a measure of how heavy the diamond is, one carat being equal to 200mg.
Kieron Hodgson, a commodities and mining analyst, said it will be a very expensive diamond. He said, “Valuation will depend on potential inclusions, how it would behave in cutting, optimal shape as well as final color.”
The stone is known as a type IIa diamond. These are clear and almost pure carbon diamonds, with none of the nitrogen that gives some diamonds a yellow hue.
The Koh-i-Noor (Urdu for Mountain of Light), the most famous diamond in the British crown jewels, is a type IIa diamond. Another in the collection at the Tower of London is the First Star of Africa, which was cut from the Cullinan diamond and now adorns the royal sceptre.
In April, a flawless 100-carat emerald-cut diamond sold for $22m within three seconds at an auction arranged by Sothebys in New York. It took a year to be cut from an original stone that weighed more than 200 carats when it was mined by De Beers in South Africa.
Putting a price on Lucara’s diamond is difficult because several factors come into play. While the value of diamonds shoots up with size, the number of potential buyers falls. The buyer of the Lucara diamond could be a syndicate.
Botswana is the world’s second biggest diamond producer, and Lucara said the gem was the largest ever to be recovered in the country.
On Thursday, the company announced the recovery of two more large diamonds from the same mine, estimated at 813 and 374 carats.