Initialy recovered in august 2011, Gem Diamonds has sold the Letšeng Star, a 553 carat white diamond, for $16.5 million in October 2011.
The Letšeng Star, the 14th largest diamond ever to be recovered has been unveiled by Gem Diamonds and the Government of Lesotho. The 550 carat diamond was found at the Letšeng mine, the highest diamond mine in the world, located in the remote African nation of Lesotho.
The newly baptised 553 carat Letšeng Star was found on the 19th August. It is currently in Antwerp where it has been boiled twice in acid to remove any traces or kimberlite to establish its true weight which has been confirmed at an impressive 550 carats. Gem Diamonds has stated that the Letšeng Star is a Type IIA, D colour, which means that it is a high quality diamond. The rough diamond is somewhere in size between a golf ball and a cricket ball.
The listed diamond company will participate in the upside from profits when the polished stones are sold.
Gem Diamonds chief executive Clifford Elphick said the sale would improve the performance of the group.
“The Letšeng Star has the potential to yield an exceptional polished product. We are becoming increasingly successful in selling rough and polished diamonds with good margins being realised,” he said.
Safdico team of experts have accomplished, after over a year of precision work, one of the most challenging task of revealing 12 matching pairs of pear shaped diamonds as well as a master stone, a pear shape of 33 carat as well, to form a unique collection of over 165 carat of D flawless gems stemming from a single diamond.
“In October 2011, we acquired a rare 550 carat rough diamond originating from the Letseng mine in Lesotho. The rarity of diamonds is such that the chance of discovering a stone of this magnitude, even with today's technology, is extremely small. As the finite supply found in diamond mines is dwindling down worldwide, the probability of finding such treasures is diminishing even more.
We could not resist the opportunity presented to us, baring in mind the experience we have on stones coming the same mine.
Months of study and consideration were needed to come up with options of recovery and we needed a lot of reflection to choose the decision we believed would yield something greater than the sum of its parts, a unique item, something never seen before in the diamond world.
Studying the stone consists of making "windows' in the stone to allow precision scanners to measure and locate the impurities within the structure of the stone and thus facilitate the positioning of the various shapes as to allow maximum yield.
One of the options showed a combination of pear shapes with various other cuts so came about the idea to look for identical pairs of pear shapes withing the stone while keeping the major stone.”
Our various teams met regularly to talk about he evolution of the process and six painstaking months were necessary to finally come up with the final product.
With the Letšeng Star, the mine has produced four of the 20 largest diamonds. The 603 carat Lesotho Promise sold for $12.4m in 2006, the 493 carat Letšeng Legacy went for $10.4m in 2007, and the 478 carat Light of Letšeng fetched $18.4m in 2008.