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Lu­cara Di­a­mond Corp fi­nally sold the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona di­a­mond for $53 mil­lion last week to Graff Di­a­monds.

SIZE IS not ev­ery­thing in the di­a­mond mar­ket, es­pe­cially for the big­gest gem found in more than a cen­tury and which took more than one year to sell.

Lu­cara Di­a­mond Corp. fi­nally sold the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona di­a­mond for $53 mil­lion, or $47,777 a carat, on Mon­day to Graff Di­a­monds, Van­cou­ver-based Lu­cara said in a state­ment. While it is sig­nif­i­cantly big­ger than the 813-carat Con­stel­la­tion stone Lu­cara found at the same time, that stone sold for a record $63 mil­lion, or about $77,500 a carat.

The fate of the Lesedi, or “our light” in the Tswana lan­guage spo­ken in Botswana, is a good ex­am­ple of how size is not the most im­por­tant fac­tor in the di­a­mond in­dus­try.

The gem is more dif­fi­cult to cut and the colour is not as good as the Con­stel­la­tion, mean­ing it prob­a­bly will not yield as good a pol­ished stone. BMO Cap­i­tal Mar­kets had fore­cast that the di­a­mond, which went un­sold at a Sotheby’s auc­tion in Lon­don last year, could sell for $75 mil­lion.

“If you take the po­ten­tial out­comes from the stone into con­sid­er­a­tion, the risk that the buyer is ac­tu­ally tak­ing, you can now see why it was not the eas­i­est one to sell,” Lu­cara chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Wil­liam Lamb said.

The Lesedi, just smaller than a ten­nis ball, is sec­ond in size only to the Cul­li­nan, a 3,106-carat gem found in South Africa in 1905.

The Cul­li­nan was cut to form the Great Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa, which are set in the Crown Jew­els of Bri­tain.

In last year’s Sotheby’s auc­tion, there was only one of­fer, which was lower than the amount paid by Graff. Then, the auc­tion house it­self bid $61 mil­lion as it sought to move the stone closer to­ward the re­serve price, which did not hap­pen, Lamb said.

Lu­cara, known for pro­duc­ing some of the world’s big­gest and best stones, un­earthed the di­a­mond at its Karowe mine in Botswana. The com­pany, which car­ries no debt, must now de­cide what to do with the pro­ceeds.

“It does lead down the path of are we go­ing to have a spe­cial div­i­dend?” Lamb said. “That’s com­pletely down to the dis­cre­tion of the board.” By Joe Deaux, Thomas Biesheuvel

Pic­ture: AFP

The 1,109-carat ‘Lesedi La Rona’ at Sotheby’s in Lon­don.

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