Okavango Diamond Company, Botswana's state-runned, unveiled in April 2019 the polished result of what is said to be the largest blue diamond ever discovered in the southern African country, one of the world’s top producers. The 20.46-carat, oval-shape fancy colored diamond, fashioned from a 41.11-carat rough stone recovered on May 21 2018 at the Orapa mine, has been named "The Okavango Blue" in honor of the Okavango Delta, the country's wildlife-rich world heritage site.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has graded the diamond as an Oval Brilliant Cut, Fancy Deep Blue, type IIb, with VVS2 clarity, making it one of the highest color and clarity classifications attainable for any blue diamond. At 20.46 carats it is in the very top bracket of all-time historical blue diamond finds, which includes The Cullinan Dream - a 24-carat intense blue diamond which sold for $25.4 million at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction, was cut from a 122.52ct rock from Petra Diamond's Cullinan mine in South Africa in 2014.
“The iconic Okavango Blue will be showcased over the coming months to promote Botswana as a leading global producer of natural ethical diamonds with an anticipated sale toward the end of the year,” ter Haar said.
Blue diamonds are among the rarest found in nature, created by the molecular inclusion of the rare mineral boron at depths of up 400-600 km beneath the earth's surface, they comprise only about 0.02% mined diamonds but their beauty and value is such that they include some of the world’s most famous jewels.
ODC General Manager Bakani Motlhabani said, "When it 'popped' it created a sense of excitement and curiosity. A few weeks later when it got to the sorting house in Gabarone, people shouted. Here is something special." ODC Managing Director Marcus ter Haar added, "It is incredibly unusual for a stone of this color and nature to have come from Botswana – a once-in-lifetime find, which is about as rare as a star in the Milky Way."