It seems there aren’t many people willing to pay $70 million for a diamond…
Which is surprising, given that the diamond in question is the second largest ever found. In history. It hails from a Botswana mine and goes by the name of ‘Lesedi di Rona’, or Our Light. Discovered by Canada’s Lucara Diamond Corp, it weighs an incredible 1,109 carats and is currently the world’s largest uncut diamond.
When the Lesedi di Rona went up for auction at Sotheby’s recently, it did so with a significant reserve price of $70 million. But the highest bid was a ‘measly’ $61 million – not exactly a positive outcome, since Lucara were expecting a minimum of $70. So why did nobody want to part with quite so much cash for this historic rock?
There are many possible answers, but the simplest one is that it’s just too big! The Lesedi is around the size of a tennis ball and is way too large for even the most state of the art cutting technology to handle. Analysing the diamond for the best cuts to make could take several months or even years. Actually cutting and polishing it would take even longer. That means the true quality of the diamond, and thus its true value, is much more difficult to decipher. Which makes it too much of a risk for bidders when there’s tens of millions of dollars at stake.
So what next for the Lesdi di Rona? Lucara have several options, although none of them would have been their top choice. They could analyse and cut the diamond themselves into either one giant polished gem or several smaller (but still pretty huge, by everyday standards) stones. Buyers may be more willing splash the cash when the true quality of the diamond is known, and when it’s already in its end form. Alternatively, they could just wait a while and try to sell again in future. With different bidders and different financial markets, it could find a worthy home.
In fact, a piece of the diamond that broke off during the recovery process – a rough shard 373 carats in weight – was sold to expert cutters Graff for $17.5 million. Maybe they’ll come back for more?