Tennis ball-sized Lesedi diamond sold for $53m

Size isn’t everything in the diamond market, especially for the biggest gem found in more than a century and which took a year to sell.

Tennis ball-sized Lesedi diamond sold for $53m

Lucara Diamond finally sold the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona diamond for $53m (€44.6m), or $47,777 a carat, to Graff Diamonds, Vancouver-based Lucara said.

While it’s significantly bigger than the 813-carat Constellation stone Lucara found at the same time, that stone sold for a record $63m, or about $77,500 a carat. The fate of the Lesedi, or “our light” in the Tswana language spoken in Botswana, is a good example of how size isn’t the most important factor in the diamond industry.

The gem is more difficult to cut and the colour isn’t as good as the Constellation, meaning it probably won’t yield as good a polished stone. BMO Capital Markets had forecast that the diamond, which went unsold at auction in London last year, could sell for $75m.

“If you take the potential outcomes from the stone into consideration, the risk that the buyer is actually taking, you can now see why it wasn’t the easiest one to sell,” Lucara chief executive William Lamb said.

The Lesedi, just smaller than a tennis ball, is second in size only to the Cullinan, a 3,106-carat gem found in South Africa in 1905. The Cullinan was cut to form the Great Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa, which are the Crown Jewels of Britain. In last year’s auction, there was only one offer, which was lower than the amount paid by Graff.


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