Tiny African Kingdom of Lesotho Yields 910-Carat, Gem-Quality Diamond; Ranks as 5th Largest Ever
The prolific Letšeng mine in the tiny southern Africa kingdom of Lesotho has produced another mammoth gem-quality diamond. Weighing 910 carats, the D-color, Type IIa stone is the largest ever mined at Letšeng and the fifth-largest gem-quality diamond ever recovered in world history.
The yet-to-be-named gem is probably worth more than $50 million based on recent sales of colossal diamonds exhibiting nearly identical characteristics.
For example, the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona (#2 on the all-time list) was sold in September of 2017 for $53 million. In May of 2016, the 812-carat Constellation (#7 on the all-time list) fetched $63 million. Sourced at Lucara's Karowe mine in Botswana, both D-color diamonds were rated Type IIa, which means they are chemically pure with no traces of nitrogen or boron impurities.
Despite having a land mass slightly smaller than Maryland, Lesotho is an international powerhouse when it comes to turning out huge, top-quality stones.
“Since Gem Diamonds acquired Letšeng in 2006, the mine has produced some of the world’s most remarkable diamonds, including the 603-carat Lesotho Promise," noted Gem Diamonds CEO Clifford Elphick. "However, this exceptional top-quality diamond is the largest to be mined to date and highlights the unsurpassed quality of the Letšeng mine."
Here's a list of the most newsworthy stones to come from Letšeng, which is billed as the highest dollar-per-carat kimberlite mine in the world.
2006 – Lesotho Promise (603 carats)
2011 – Letšeng Star (550 carats)
2007 – Lesotho Legacy (493 carats)
2008 – Leseli La Letšeng (478 carats)
2015 – Letšeng Dynasty (357 carats)
2015 – Letšeng Destiny (314 carats)
2014 – Unnamed Yellow (299 carats)
The newly unveiled 910-carat rough diamond has an equivalent weight of 182 grams, or 6.41 ounces. A baseball, by comparison, weighs 5.25 ounces.
The fifth-largest gem-quality diamond ever mined is less than one-third the weight of the granddaddy of them all — the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, which was discovered in South Africa in 1905. Finished gems cut from the Cullinan Diamond include the Cullinan I (530.20 carats) and the Cullinan II (317.4 carats).
The United Kingdom-based Gem Diamonds holds a 70% stake in the Letšeng mine with the government of Lesotho owning the remaining 30%.
Credit: Image via Twitter.com/GemDiamondsLtd.