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One of the biggest diamonds in history found in Southern Africa

15 January 2018 - 11:01 By Thomas Biesheuvel
The 910 carat diamond found at the Letšeng mine in Lesotho.
The 910 carat diamond found at the Letšeng mine in Lesotho.
Image: Gem Diamonds

One of the biggest diamonds in history has been discovered in the mountainous kingdom of Lesotho.

Mining company Gem Diamonds found the 910 carat stone, about the size of two golf balls, at its Letseng mine in the country. It’s a D colour Type IIa diamond, which means it has very little or no nitrogen atoms and is one of the most expensive stones. The diamond is the fifth-biggest stone ever found.

The Letseng mine is famous for the size and quality of the diamonds it produces and has the highest average selling price in the world. Gem sold a 357 carat stone for $19.3 million in 2015 and in 2006 found the 603 carat Lesotho Promise.

“This exceptional top-quality diamond is the largest to be mined to date and highlights the unsurpassed quality of the Letseng mine,” Chief Executive Officer Clifford Elphick said in a statement.

“This is a landmark recovery for all of Gem Diamonds’ stakeholders, including our employees, shareholders and the Government of Lesotho, our partner in the Letseng mine.”

Gem did not say how it will sell the diamond or what it could be worth. Its value will be determined by the size and quality of the polished stones that can be cut from it. Lucara Diamond Corp sold a 1,109 carat diamond for $53 million last year, but got a record $63 million for a smaller 813 carat stone it found at the same time in 2015.

Gem’s mega discovery follows news last week that it had found 117 carat and 110 carat stones. It will be another boost for the company that dropped to a record low last year after prices for its stones fell and it was forced to close a new mine in Botswana.

The biggest diamond discovered is the 3,106 carat Cullinan, found near Pretoria in 1905. It was cut to form the Great Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa, which are set in the Crown Jewels of Britain. Lucara’s 1,109 carat Lesedi La Rona is the second-biggest, with the 995 carat Excelsior and 969 carat Star of Sierra Leone the third- and fourth-largest.

- Bloomberg