Botswana has uncovered what experts believe is the third-largest diamond in the world, as the gemstone market has recovered from a drop in sales due to the pandemic.
The diamond, which was unearthed by Debswana, a joint venture between the government and De Beers, was measured at 1,098 carats – making it the largest find in the world since the Lesedi la Rona stone discovered in the country in in 2015.
Diamond jewelry sales have resumed in the United States as the country’s economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. This has raised prices for rough diamonds, with prices at a De Beers retail event this week increasing by 5 percent, according to people familiar with the event.
“The market is incredibly hot,” said Anish Aggarwal, a partner at diamond consulting firm Gemdax. “We’ve seen strong consumer demand. During Covid and the blockchains we’ve seen consumers move from experiential consumption to personal goods and that has helped the diamond market.”
The Natural Diamond Council, a body backed by the industry, said sales of diamond jewelry in the United States, the world’s largest market, had increased by 30 percent between March and May, since same period last year.
At the same time, the world’s largest diamond miners have reduced about a fifth of their supply compared to pre-Covid levels to support prices, according to Citi analysts.
According to diamond analyst Paul Zimnisky, prices for rough diamonds rose 14.5% this year to mid-June.
While there is still no estimate of the price of the diamond discovered at the Jwaneng mine in Botswana on June 1, the Lesedi la Rona diamond was sold for $ 53 million in 2017.
Last year, diamond miner Lucara sold a 1,758-carat diamond was discovered in Botswana at Louis Vuitton, although no price has been given for the sale.
“Debswana will work with the Government of the Republic of Botswana and De Beers to value and sell the diamond to ensure it renders maximum benefit for the people of Botswana,” the company said.
Debswana, Botswana’s largest private employer and the state’s main source of income, has been intertwined with the country’s history for half a century.
Jwaneng’s discovery is “a symbol of what Botswana is all about,” said President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who picked up the diamond at a ceremony in Gaborone, the capital, this week.
The Masisi government has pushed for diamond miners to give more than one cut to the country from its sales, including support to make Botswana a larger center for higher value activities such as polishing and trade.
“Our national development needs will be partly met by the diamond gain,” Masisi said. “We will impose society enough, pay rights and remunerate its workers, and distribute resources through the systems we will develop in this country.”
De Beers said the diamond will take its place in history “as one of the most exceptional diamonds ever discovered.”
The largest diamond ever discovered was the Cullinan Diamond, which was excavated in South Africa in 1905. At 3,106 carats the diamond was cut and incorporated into the UK Crown Jewelry.