Business & Industry

Nov 30, 2015

Apple-Sized Diamond, the Second-Largest Ever Discovered on Earth

A Canadian mining company The Lucara Diamond Corporation has unearthed the largest single diamond found in more than a century, and it's the second biggest ever found.

The diamond was recovered from a mine in Botswana, which is the world's second-biggest diamond producer behind Russia.  The Lucara describes the Botswana gem as Type IIa quality, and containing an incredible 1,111 carats. The largest diamond ever recovered from Botswana in Southern Africa is a clear and almost pure carbon diamond, with none of the nitrogen that gives some diamonds a yellow hue.

The diamond measures 6.5cm by 5.6cm by 4cm, and is second in size only to the 3,106-carat Cullinan diamond, which was unearthed near Pretoria, South Africa, in 1905. The Cullinan diamond was eventually cut into nine major stones and 96 smaller ones, some of which found their way into the British crown jewels. Most likely, the same division will be done to the Botswana diamond:

 "The historic significance of the Botswana diamond as the world's second-largest makes it difficult to evaluate how much buyers might pay for it. The value of the diamond also depends on factors such as possible cracks or dark spots, which need to be evaluated. Too large to be used as such, the diamond is likely to be cut into 200-carat, core diamond and other smaller ones. That decision will be taken by the buyer, the diamond polisher and designer,'' said Christopher Gemerchak from the Antwerp Diamond Jewellers Association.

Lucara had already been inundated with inquiries from potential buyers, but said it was impossible to price the diamond at this stage. The stone, the second largest ever recovered, was too large to fit inside the company's own scanner, so it was transported to Antwerp for closer inspection.

The company has yet to decide how to sell the stone, but it is likely to be auctioned once it has been prepared for sale. Putting a price on Lucara's diamond is difficult because several factors come into play. While the value of diamonds shoots up with size, the number of potential buyers falls. So, the value of huge Botswana diamond still remains unknown by now.

This diamond, slightly smaller than a tennis ball, was recovered by machines in the Karowe open pit mine in central Botswana. The Lucara company had used an x-ray processing facility to reduce damage while recovering large diamonds. Had the Karowe mine used older equipment, the diamond might have been smashed to pieces along with the rubble removed from the pit. "It would have gone to the pebble crusher and it would have been destroyed. Our focus, mining the south lobe has been perfectly timed with the commissioning of our recent plant modifications, enabling the recovery of large, high-quality exceptional diamonds,'' said William Lamb, the CEO of the company.

No need to say, that the company's share price rose 32% on the back of the news, adding about $150m to its market value. A few days after, the company announced the recovery of two more large diamonds from the same mine, estimated at 813 and 374 carats. Lamb said it was an amazing week for the company but added that it "would not be the best strategy to put all three on the market right away".

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