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Tennis ball-sized diamond sold for $53m

by Jason
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Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A model displays the “Lesedi La Rona” diamond at Sotheby’s in New York

The world’s second-largest gem-quality diamond has been sold to a London jeweller for $53m (£39.5m).

Laurence Graff, chairman of Graff Diamonds, bought the diamond privately after it failed to meet its reserve price at an auction last year.

The 1,111-carat stone was recovered by Canadian firm Lucara Diamond Corp in Botswana two years ago.

Lucara said the price was an improvement on the highest bid received at Sotheby’s in June 2016.

The diamond is named “Lesedi La Rona”, which means “our light” in Botswana’s Tswana language.

The stone was first formed between 2.5 to three billion years ago and is roughly the size of a tennis ball.

Image copyright Graff Diamonds
Image caption A team of cutters will work out the best way to maximize the stone’s potential

As well as its size, the diamond has been certified as being of “exceptional quality and transparency” by the Gemological Institute of America.

Mr Graff said “The stone will tell us its story, it will dictate how it wants to be cut.”

The company say it will be scanned using state of the art 3D equipment which search for inclusions, small imperfections in the heart of the stone, to decide how the diamond will be polished.

Then an expert team will examine the diamond using microscopes to pick up and navigate any further pinpoint inclusions.

They will then work out how to cut the diamond and into how many individual stones.

Graff acquired another 373-carat diamond that was originally part of “Lesedi La Rona” earlier this year.

Image copyright Sotheby’s
Image caption The Lesedi la Rona is the largest gem-quality rough diamond to be discovered in more than a century

The company say they will cut the smaller diamond first and with the knowledge gained from that, they will decide how to work on the larger gem

The “Lesedi La Rona” is the largest gem-quality diamond discovered in more than a century, and the second-largest ever. The largest was the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, discovered in South Africa in 1905.

Graff described the stone as “the world’s most valuable rough diamond”.

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