Biggest diamond goes to market

Biggest diamond goes to market

JOHANNESBURG – A 603-carat diamond, the biggest found in 13 years and the 15th largest in the world, went on sale in Antwerp yesterday after being uncovered in Lesotho in southern Africa, the owners said.

“It’s about a third bigger than a golf ball,” a spokeswoman for the owners said. It was hard to peg a valuation on the find since that depended on how many cut diamonds could be fashioned from it.A handful of the world’s top diamond cutters would be allowed several hours to examine the stone before they submitted bids.The diamond, named the “Lesotho Promise”, was found at the Letseng Diamond Mine high in the mountains of Lesotho, a kingdom surrounded by South Africa.The gem is the biggest uncut diamond found since the Millennium Star – 777 carats large – was discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1993.The biggest rough diamond ever found was the Cullinan at 3 106 carats, while the second largest, the Excelsior, was 995 carats.Both were found in South Africa.The biggest cut diamond that resulted from the Millennium Star was a pear-shaped gem of 203 carats.The winning bid for the Lesotho diamond, which was found on August 22, is expected to be announced by the Antwerp Diamond Centre on Monday, the spokeswoman added.The Letseng mine is 70 per cent owned by Gem Diamond Mining Company of Africa Ltd and 30 per cent by the Lesotho government.Gem Diamond Mining is headed by Clifford Elphick, a former adviser to the Oppenheimer family, which has a 40 per cent stake in diamond giant De Beers.The Letseng mine was previously operated by De Beers, which closed it in 1982, but the operation was restarted in 2004.Nampa-ReutersIt was hard to peg a valuation on the find since that depended on how many cut diamonds could be fashioned from it.A handful of the world’s top diamond cutters would be allowed several hours to examine the stone before they submitted bids.The diamond, named the “Lesotho Promise”, was found at the Letseng Diamond Mine high in the mountains of Lesotho, a kingdom surrounded by South Africa.The gem is the biggest uncut diamond found since the Millennium Star – 777 carats large – was discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1993.The biggest rough diamond ever found was the Cullinan at 3 106 carats, while the second largest, the Excelsior, was 995 carats.Both were found in South Africa.The biggest cut diamond that resulted from the Millennium Star was a pear-shaped gem of 203 carats.The winning bid for the Lesotho diamond, which was found on August 22, is expected to be announced by the Antwerp Diamond Centre on Monday, the spokeswoman added.The Letseng mine is 70 per cent owned by Gem Diamond Mining Company of Africa Ltd and 30 per cent by the Lesotho government.Gem Diamond Mining is headed by Clifford Elphick, a former adviser to the Oppenheimer family, which has a 40 per cent stake in diamond giant De Beers.The Letseng mine was previously operated by De Beers, which closed it in 1982, but the operation was restarted in 2004.Nampa-Reuters

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