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World’s Third Largest Diamond Found In Botswana; See How Big It Is (Photos)

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Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi holds the diamond as First Lady Neo Jane Masisi looks on. Credit: Monirul Bhuiyan/AFP/Getty Images
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi holds the diamond as First Lady Neo Jane Masisi looks on. Credit: Monirul Bhuiyan/AFP/Getty Images

One of the world’s largest diamonds has been unearthed in Africa’s largest producer of diamonds, Botswana, the country’s government recently announced.

The 1,098-carat stone, which is believed to be the third largest “gem-quality” diamond ever found, was presented to President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday.

The huge gem, which is yet to be named, is only slightly less heavy than the world’s second-largest diamond which was also found in Botswana in 2015.

The largest diamond is the 3,106-carat Cullinan found in South Africa in 1905 which was subsequently cut into smaller stones, some of which form part of British royal family’s Crown Jewels.

3,106-carat Cullinan found in South Africa in 1905.

The second largest discovery is believed to be Lesedi La Rona, a 1,109-carat stone found by Canadian firm Lucara Diamond at Karowe mine, also in Botswana, in 2015. The diamond was sold to luxury jeweler, Graff for $53 million two years later.

1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona discovered in Botswana in 2015
1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona discovered in Botswana in 2015.

Also, an even larger diamond was found in Botswana in 2019 – a 1,758-carat stone dubbed Sewelô – but experts said it could not be considered entirely gem-quality. The stone was purchased by French luxury brand, Louis Vuitton in 2020 for an undisclosed sum.

Meanwhile, the latest discovery was made earlier this month in Jwaneng mine, around 75 miles from the country’s capital, Gaborone.

The mine is operated by Debswana, a joint venture between Anglo American’s De Beers and the Botswanan government, which receives as much as 80% of the income from sales through dividends, royalties and taxes.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi was shown the gem at a ceremony in the capital, Gaborone. Photo: AFP
President Mokgweetsi Masisi was shown the gem at a ceremony in the capital, Gaborone. Photo: AFP

According to Botswana government via its official Twitter page, “proceeds from the diamond will be used to advance national development in the country.”

The company’s acting managing director, Lynette Armstrong, presented the gemstone, which was found on June 1, to the country’s president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, last Wednesday.

The 1,098-carat stone, pictured in Gaborone, Botswana. Credit: Monirul Bhuiyan/AFP/Getty Images
The 1,098-carat stone, pictured in Gaborone, Botswana. Credit: Monirul Bhuiyan/AFP/Getty Images

Armstrong said;

This is the largest diamond to be recovered by Debswana in its history of over 50 years in operation.

From our preliminary analysis it could be the world’s third largest gem-quality stone. We are yet to make a decision on whether to sell it through the De Beers channel or through the state owned Okavango Diamond Company.

A 1,098 carat diamond, discovered in Botswana and believed to be the third largest gem-quality stone ever to be mined, is seen in this undated handout picture received June 16, 2021.
A 1,098 carat diamond, discovered in Botswana and believed to be the third largest gem-quality stone ever to be mined, is seen in this undated handout picture received June 16, 2021.

She added that;

The rare and extraordinary stone means so much in the context of diamonds and Botswana. It brings hope to a nation that is struggling.

On his part, Botswana’s minerals minister, Lefoko Moagi, said the discovery of the stone, which is yet to be named but measures 73 by 52 by 27mm, could not have come at a better time after COVID-19 pandemic hit diamond sales in 2020.

Debswana says the diamond is 73mm long, 52mm wide and 27mm thick. Photo: Reuters.
Debswana says the diamond is 73mm long, 52mm wide and 27mm thick. Photo: Reuters.

Officially opened in 1982, Jwaneng mine usually yields between 12.5 million and 15 million carats of diamonds a year, according to Debswana. This month’s find is the largest gem unearthed by the company since diamonds were first discovered in Botswana in 1967, the government said.

However, production at Debswana fell by 29% in 2020 to 16.6m carats and sales fell by 30% to $2.1bn as the pandemic affected production and demand.

Debswana plans to increase output by as much as 38% to pre-pandemic levels of 23m carats in 2021 as the global diamond market recovers with the easing of travel restrictions and reopening of jewellers.

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