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Lesedi La Rona: World's second largest rough diamond too big to sell

"Lesedi La Rona" is world's second largest rough diamond after Cullinan. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION Web Team South Africa Jul 18, 2017, 07.22 AM (IST)

By Aimen Zaki

The second largest rough diamond could not be sold at a London auction this week. The mining company from Canada, Lucara Diamond Corp. discovered world's second largest rough diamond ‘Lesedi La Rona’ in 2015.

The "Lesedi La Rona" diamond is one of the greatest finds in history as it is only preceded by world's largest diamond - the Cullinan.

Although, ''Sergio" is said to be the largest rough diamond in the world but it is in the form of Carbonado, also known as black diamond. Hence, when Cullinan diamond was discovered on 26th January 1905, it became the world's largest gem quality (non-carbonado) rough diamond. The diamond weighed 3,106.75 carats (9621.35 g) and was unearthed by Premier Diamond Mining Company Ltd.

The Cullinan diamond was later cut by Asscher brothers from the Royal Asscher Diamond Company. Joseph Asscher cleaved the entire stone into nine parts named Cullinan I to Cullinan IX ranging in different shapes and sizes.

The Cullinan diamond was presented to King Edward VII of UK on his 66th birthday and its polished pieces have continued to stay in the Royal family ever since.

Currently, Queen Elizabeth II has the Cullinan I (weighing 530.20 carats) embedded in the Imperial state crown which is also the largest among all the other Cullinan diamonds.

The pink diamond broke the world record for a gemstone sold at an auction in April after it fetched $71.2 million in Hong Kong.

The 59.60-carat "Pink Star" is the largest in its class ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA)


Nine diamonds cut from the rough Cullinan diamond. (Image source: Wikipedia) (Others)


Cullinan and Lesedi La Rona both discovered in Southern Africa

The two largest gem quality diamonds were discovered in South Africa's diamond mines. The Cullinan diamond came from the Premier mine of Gauteng in 1905, which was renamed as Cullinan Diamond Mine in 2003 to celebrate 100 years of the mine. 

"Lesedi La Rona" was found in Karowe Mine in Botswana. Diamonds may be a girl's best friend but most of the world's best diamond are  found in southern Africa.


"Lesedi La Rona" was found in Karowe Mine in Botswana (Reuters)


Diamonds are hard to sell in the market

Diamonds are a hard thing to sell at any auction due to their natural and uncut state. Most buyers are interested in getting polished and cut diamonds. A rough-gemstone will not attract many people due to its unkempt size and shape. Also, the gem cutting business is on the rise which directly affects the price of a rough diamond, making it cheaper in the market.

Fine cutting of any big diamond can take years and people don't want to waste their time and effort to go through the process.

The "Lesedi La Rona" diamond was taken back by the Canadian diamond company Lucara corporation after it failed to attract buyers. The diamond is 1,109 carats (221.8 grams) and is almost the size of a tennis ball. The Lesedi was priced at $61 million by Sotheby's but the company estimated its value to go up to $70 million.

As the company enjoys incredible fame due to its historical discovery, the rare Diamond House managing director Oded Mansori said that it would be a mistake for Lucara to hold on to the Lesedi.

"Maybe next week, there will be a larger stone," Oded Mansori told Reuters. 

This directly points to the innovation in the field of mining technology that has completely changed over the last two-three decades.

While Lucara was lucky to be the first to unearth the heavy gem with its new X-ray transmission machines, other diamond companies with the same advanced technology are also in a similar race of extracting the high-value gems.

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