British diamond magnate Laurence Graff on Tuesday bought the world’s second-largest uncut diamond for $53 million (more than Rs 334 crore) from Canadian miner Lucara Diamond Corp. Lucara found the rock – roughly the size of a tennis ball – in the Karowe mine in Botswana in 2015.
The 1,109-carat stone was named Lesedi La Rona, or “Our Light”, in Botswana’s Tswana language.
Believed to be nearly 3 billion years old, Lesedi La Rona is second only to the Cullinan – a 3,106-carat gem that was found in South Africa in 1905, Reuters reported. The Cullinan was cut into 105 smaller diamonds, some of which are set in the British Crown Jewels.
“We are thrilled and honoured to become the new custodians of this incredible diamond,” Laurence Graff said. “The stone will tell us its story, it will dictate how it wants to be cut, and we will take the utmost care to respect its exceptional properties.”
Lucara had put the diamond up for sale at Sotheby’s in June 2016. The bidding stalled at $61 million (nearly Rs 400 crore), but the estimate was of over $70 million (nearly Rs 458 crore), The Telegraph reported. The diamond was then withdrawn from public view.
“We took our time to find a buyer who would take the diamond through its next stage of evolution,” President and Chief Executive Officer at Lucara Diamond Corp William Lamb said. “The price paid is also an improvement on the highest bid received at the Sotheby’s auction in June 2016.”