Even after a lot of publicity and excitement around Lucara’s 1,109-carat Lesedi la Rona rough diamond, the tennis-ball sized stone failed to sell at auction Wednesday.
Discovered at Lucara Diamond Corp.’s Karowe Mine, the stone is the largest rough diamond found since the 3,016.75-carat Cullinan Diamond in 1905.
Lucara said that bidding at the auction at Sotheby’s London did not meet the reserve price–Sotheby’s pre-sale estimate on the stone was $70 million–so it will “retain” the stone for now. The highest bid reached was $61 million, $68.3 million with buyer’s premium.
Lucara CEO and President William Lamb told National Jeweler, “It needs to be understood that this is the first time anyone has attempted to sell a rough diamond via the auction process. Lucara wanted to understand whether there was a market for truly exceptional diamonds where they would be purchased as collectables the same as high-value art.
“We understand that it is not easy to see the true value in a diamond when the only mechanism is to value the polished. The historical significance of the stone seems to have been missed based on the bids offered.”
When asked what role he thought Brexit or other global economic situations might have had on the outcome, he said, “We cannot say. In today’s volatile times, there is always some level of economic uncertainty. Saying this is the reason the auction did not conclude with the sale of the stone would be incorrect, although it may have in some way played a small part.”
Lucara said it could go a number of routes with rough diamond now, from partnering on the stone to holding a regular tender within the diamond market or even putting Lesedi la Rona on display at a museum.
When the news first broke that the stone would be put up for auction, Sotheby’s said it commissioned independent reports on the potential yield of Lesedi la Rona from the Gem Certification and Assurance Lab (GCAL) and Diamex Inc./Crodiam Consulting DMCC.