Botswana discovers third largest diamond as market recovers

Botswana has discovered what experts consider to be the third largest diamond in the world, just 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 world’s largest find since the Lesedi la Rona stone discovered in the country in 2015 .

Sales of diamond jewelry have rebounded in the United States as the country’s economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. This has pushed up rough diamond prices, with prices at a De Beers sale event this week rising 5%, according to people familiar with the event.

“The market is incredibly hot,” said Anish Aggarwal, partner at diamond consultancy firm Gemdax. “We have seen strong consumer demand. During Covid and the lockdowns, we saw consumers move from experiential consumption to personal goods and that helped the diamond market. ”

The Natural Diamond Council, an industry-backed body, said sales of diamond jewelry in the United States, the world’s largest market, increased 30% between March and May, compared to the same period. in 2019.

At the same time, the world’s largest diamond miners have cut about a fifth of their supply from pre-Covid levels in order to support prices, Citi analysts say.

Rough diamond prices rose 14.5% this year in mid-June, according to diamond analyst Paul Zimnisky.

While there is no price estimate yet for the diamond discovered at the Jwaneng mine in Botswana on June 1, the Lesedi la Rona diamond sold for $ 53 million in 2017.

Last year, diamond miner Lucara sold a 1,758-carat diamond he discovered in Botswana at Louis Vuitton, although no price was given for the sale.

“Debswana will work with the government of the Republic of Botswana and De Beers to appraise and sell the diamond to ensure that it yields the maximum benefit to the people of Botswana,” the company said.

Debswana, Botswana’s largest private employer and the state’s main source of income, has been linked to the country’s history for half a century.

Jwaneng’s find is “a symbol of what Botswana is,” said President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who rocked the diamond at a ceremony in the capital Gaborone this week.

Masisi’s government has pushed diamond miners to further reduce their sales to the country, including support to make Botswana a more important hub for higher value-added activities such as polishing and trading.

“Our national development needs will be partly met by the diamond product,” Masisi said. “We will tax the company enough, they will pay royalties and compensate their workers, and we will distribute the resources through the systems we have to develop this country.”

De Beers said the diamond would 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 unearthed in South Africa in 1905. At 3,106 carats, the diamond was cut and incorporated into the crown jewels of the United Kingdom.

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