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How big is too big for a diamond?

By 25th August 2017October 21st, 2020No Comments

You’ve heard the phrase bigger is better, right? But can a diamond ever be too big?

Apparently so!

The world’s second largest uncut gem-quality diamond (below) failed to reach its reserve price at auction, remaining unsold with bidding at a cool $61 million (in June 2016). Subsequently, it was sold for $53m, in September 2017.

The diamond, known as ‘Lesedi La Rona’ which means ‘Our Light’ is 1,109 carats, and was found in a mine in Botswana by Canada’s Lucara Diamond Corp in 2015.

Only the Cullinan Diamond was larger, when mined, but there is a trend in recent years for larger uncut stones to be retrieved un-broken, as mining industry technology has improved.

The reason the Lesedi La Rona wasn’t sold initially is due to a number of factors. For one thing, a diamond that large is very hard to accurately analyse. Even the best equipment used to examine uncut stones for internal flaws can’t handle anything larger than about 1,000 carats. This means that it’s not possible to say for sure whether the stone has internal flaws. In addition, deciding what to do with such a stone, dividing it, cutting it and polishing it, could take many months. Fashions for cut and style of diamonds vary, so it’s entirely possible that cut diamonds could be crafted from this uncut monster that are un-sellable by the time they are ready.

The 1109-carat uncut diamond named 'Lesedi La Rona' Credit AP Photo Matt Dunham, File

Rough Cullinan diamond

The Cullinan Diamond, left, was discovered in South Africa in 1905, and was an enormous 3,106 carats, weighing 1.3 pounds. What do you do with a stone that size? Well, back in those days, the answer was that you give it to the King, of course! In this case, Edward VII, for his 66th Birthday. Once cut, the largest stone was called the Star of Africa, and set in the top of the Sceptre, with the second largest subsidiary stone set into the Imperial State Crown.

These days, large diamonds tend to be the preserve of wealthy individuals and celebrities, rather than heads of state. A Russian oligarch Aleksey Shapovalov, presented his fiancée Ksenia Tsaritsina with an engagement ring containing a 70 carat diamond (right), worth an estimated £7m, and then went on to have what is being reported as the most expensive wedding ever, in 2017. This may not be strictly accurate, given that wedding ceremonies in other cultures and times often ran to many days of celebrations and hundreds of guests, but he’s certainly making a big splash!

Ksenia Tsaritsina engagement ring

There will be another blog post at some point about famously large diamonds, but it’s worth noting that the finders of these huge stones, the miners on the ground, won’t see a fraction of what these huge gems sell for, and that isn’t actually the value of the item. Our lab grown gemstones are sold for the value of the stone plus business costs, not an over-inflated price, supported by cartels of diamond mining conglomerates. With our gems, they may not be dozens of carats large, but you know where they’ve come from, and that you can trust their ethical and environmental credentials.

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