At the end of June, the “Lesedi La Rona”, the second biggest rough diamond in the world with a weight of 1.109 carat (approximately 222 grams), is being auctioned by the auction house Sotheby’s. People interested in buying diamonds have already noted the 29th of June in their diaries. It is the first rough diamond that is being sold via a public auction, rather than being offered to diamond dealers exclusively. Estimates regarding the price are therefore difficult to make. The stone could be priced at up to 70 million dollar. For reference: recently, an 813 carat diamond originating from the same mine was sold for 63 million dollar.
Antwerp, center of excellence for diamonds
Before the stone comes under the auctioneer’s hammer, however, the stone with the size of a tennis ball stopped by the Museum Aan de Stroom (MAS) in Antwerp. Seeing the stone had such a unique and historical nature, the discoverers decided to send the Lesedi on a tour around the world. Thus, after Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and New York, this historical discovery called on Antwerp too.
Last Thursday, a carefully selected audience of 140 diamond dealers was able to admire the diamond on the 9th floor of the MAS, under strict surveillance of a safety crew, consisting of private guards and specialized Antwerp police. William Lamb, the CEA of the Canadian mining company Lucara Diamonds, regards it as only natural that the diamond would be showcased in Antwerp: “Antwerp will always be associated with buying diamonds. They retain considerable technical expertise and you have access to the right people. If I were to buy the stone myself, I would bring it to Antwerp to have it cut. Antwerp is the center of excellence for the cutting of large stones.”
Bart De Wever, the mayor of Antwerp, was also enthusiastic: “The arrival of such a diamond reminds every one of the value diamonds have for the city of Antwerp. I hope the Lesedi La Rona returns for an extended visit, or even permanently, to be professionally cut by our experts.” Only after its selling in London will we know if this wish is to be fulfilled.
“When the Cullinan was found, 110 years ago, people thought it was an old wives’ tale”, CEO of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (ADWC), Ari Epstein, recounts. “Mere mortals were not given the chance to admire this remarkable stone. But times have changed and today, the whole world can be a spectator and wonder and dream with us. And that is exactly what the magic of diamonds is all about. We are therefore particularly delighted that this stone will be showcased in Antwerp as well”.
The Lesedi La Rona, ‘Our Light’ in the native Bantu language, was unearthed in the Karowe mine in Botswana. It’s the second largest rough diamond of exceptional quality to be found. Only the Cullinan, unearthed 110 years ago in South-Africa, is outsizes this stone, with a weight of 3.106 carat. De Cullinan was cut, among others, into the Cullinan I (530,2 carat) and the Cullinan II (317,4 carat), that are part of the British Crown Jewels.
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