Graff Pays $53M for 1,109-Carat Rough Diamond

Graff Pays $53M for 1,109-Carat Rough Diamond

New York–Almost exactly two years after its discovery, Lucara Diamond Corp. has found a buyer for the “Lesedi La Rona,” the 1,109-carat rough diamond unearthed at its mine in Botswana.

The mining company announced late Monday that Graff Diamonds, the London-headquartered company headed by billionaire diamantaire Laurence Graff (no relation to the author), has paid $53 million for the tennis ball-sized stone.

That works out to $47,777 per carat and is $17 million less than what Lucara originally aimed to get for the diamond when it put it up for auction in June 2016, though Lucara President and CEO William Lamb noted that $53 million is more than the highest bid received at the auction.

In the news release issued Monday, Graff called the purchase of Lesedi La Rona a “momentous day” in his career.

“We are thrilled and honored to become the new custodians of this incredible diamond. The stone will tell us its story, it will dictate how it wants to be cut, and we will take the utmost care to respect its exceptional properties. This is a momentous day in my career, and I am privileged to be given the opportunity to honor the magnificent natural beauty of Lesedi La Rona,” he said.

Graff Diamonds already owns a 373.72-carat chunk that broke off the Lesedi La Rona. The company paid $17.5 million for that rough diamond ($46,827 per carat) at Lucara’s exceptional stone tender held in May.

Graff Pays $53M for 1,109-Carat Rough Diamond Another photo gives a better idea of the size of the rough diamond dubbed “Lesedi La Rona,” which is said to be about as big as a tennis ball.

Lucara recovered the Lesedi La Rona, a Type IIa diamond that actually totaled 1,111 carats before cleaning, at its Karowe mine in Botswana in November 2015.

The citizens of Botswana participated in a naming contest after the diamond was found. Its name means “our light” in Setswana.

Lesedi La Rona is the second largest rough diamond ever found, topped only by the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond unearthed in South Africa in January 1905.

On Monday, Lamb called the discovery of the stone a “company-defining event” for Lucara and said: “We took our time to find a buyer who would take the diamond through its next stage of evolution. Graff Diamonds is now the owner of the Lesedi La Rona as well as the 373-carat diamond … We are excited to follow these diamonds through the next stage of their journey.”

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