A diamond believed to be the third largest ever found has been put on display in Botswana. The stone – weighing 1,098 carats – was shown to President Mokgweetsi Masisi, two weeks after the diamond firm, Debswana, unearthed it.
The huge gem is only slightly less heavy than the world’s second-largest diamond which was also found in Botswana in 2015.
Botswana is Africa’s largest producer of diamonds.
“This is the largest diamond to be recovered by Debswana in its history of over 50 years in operation,” said Lynette Armstrong, Debswana Diamond Company’s acting managing director.
“From our preliminary analysis it could be the world’s third largest gem quality stone.”
Debswana is a joint venture between the government and global diamond giant De Beers and up to 80% of the income from sales goes to state coffers through dividends, royalties and taxes.
An estimate of the stone’s potential cost has not yet been released but in 2017, the second-largest diamond ever found, Lesedi La Rona, was sold for $53m (£39.5m).
The biggest diamond ever discovered was the 3,106 carat Cullinan diamond found in South Africa in 1905.
Botswana’s Minerals Minister, Lefoko Moagi, said the latest find could not have come at a better time for Botswana after the pandemic caused diamond sales to slump last year.
The newly discovered stone, which was found at the Jwaneng mine, is yet to be named.
Ms Armstrong said a decision had not yet been taken on whether to sell the “rare and extraordinary stone” though De Beers or through the state-owned Okavango Diamond Company.
Leading the list as the world’s largest cut diamond is the Golden Jubilee. It is a yellow-brown stone that weighed 755.5 carats when it was unearthed in South Africa in 1986, from iconic diamond company De Beers’ formerly owned Premier Mine in the town of Cullinan.
Having been the eighth-largest gem-quality diamond at the time of discovery, the precious stone had a number of cracks and several inclusions at the time.
The job of cutting the diamond was entrusted to world-renowned cutter Gabriel Tolkowsky, who took two years to give it its final “Fire-Rose cushion” shape.
Part of the largest diamond crystal to be ever discovered, the 3,107-carat Cullinan diamond was also found at the Premier Mine in 1905.
In 1907, the province of Transvaal’s colonial government bought the rough Cullinan and gifted it to British King Edward VII on his 66th birthday for granting Transvaal its own constitution the previous year.
Named after the mine’s founder Sir Thomas Cullinan, the task of cutting the stone was entrusted by King Edward VII to expert diamond cutter Joseph Asscher.
Discovered in the 1980s as an 890-carat rough stone by a young girl in a pile of mining rubble from the nearby MIBA Diamond Mine in the town of Mbuji Mayi, Democratic Republic of Congo, the 407.48-carat Incomparable is the third-largest diamond in the world.