196-carat rough white diamond unearthed at Letšeng

The Lesotho based Letšeng diamond mine does it again. This time unearthing an “exceptional” 196-carat rough white diamond that stretches a dazzling 3cm (1.18 inches) across.

196-carat Letseng diamond

196-carat Letseng diamond

The company said it expects the diamond to produce top colour and top clarity polished diamonds and should therefore achieve a substantial per-carat price for the stone. “Offers for the stone, sold as a rough diamond, could come in at between US$7.8 million (R58 million) and US$11.8 million (R88 million),” London-based Panmure Gordon and Company analyst Alison Turnerat.

Map - Letseng Diamond Mine, Lesotho

Since Gem Diamonds’ acquisition of the Letšeng, they have found three of the world’s 20 largest diamonds in the past four years since acquiring the mine. They include the 603-carat Letšeng Promise, which sold for $12.4 million; the 493-carat Letšeng Legacy, which sold for $10.4 million; and the 478-carat Light of Letšeng, which sold for $18.4 million.

All three of these diamonds were purchased by Lawrence Graff, who owns a 9 percent stake in Gem Diamonds.

Letšeng Diamonds (Pty) Ltd is now 70 percent owned by Gem Diamonds and 30 percent owned by the Lesotho Government.

Drilling at the Letseng Diamond Mine in Lesotho

Night time drilling takes place in the satellite pit at the Letseng Mine in Lesotho. At 10,000 feet above sea level, it is the highest diamond mine in the world. (Photo courtesy Gem Diamonds)

Gem Diamonds Chief Executive Clifford Elphick said:

Letšeng continues to live up to its reputation as a unique producer of exceptional diamonds and the recovery of this remarkable 196 carat white diamond reinforces its position as one of the great mines in the diamond industry. In order to increase the returns from this world class asset, management is focused on a number of workstreams which aim to substantially expand production and increase value at Letšeng.

Lesotho’s first diamonds were discovered in 1957. A small mining industry was established in the 1960s. During the 1960s and 1970s. Lesotho’s mines have yielded several large gems, and the industry employed thousands of people. The Letseng mine has a rich history of oversized diamonds being pulled from its depths. Since 1920, four of the twenty largest rough diamond recorded have been found at the Letseng mine. It also has been one of the most productive mines throughout its history.

The Cullinan Diamond is the largest gem diamond ever found, discovered in 1905, weighed 3,106-carats in its rough state. It was later made into many other gemstones, the largest of which was the Star of Africa (Cullinan I), a teardrop-shaped diamond weighing 530-carats forms part of the British crown jewels. The Golden Jubilee, with the weight of 545.67 carats, is the largest faceted diamond in the world. The rough stone weighed 755 carats and was discovered in the same mine as the Cullinan in 1985.

6 of the best diamonds discovered at Letseng

Letseng Diamond Mine are open for tours to the public. The tour is only available on Saturdays and the durations is 3-4 hours. If you would like to go on the tour, you must write a letter asking for permission to do the tour. It is free of charge and the tour is guided. The letter can be faxed or emailed to their offices.
Fax: 00266 2222 1220
Email: siteservices @ letseng.co.ls
Phone: 00266 2222 1000

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