Second Largest, Tennis Ball-Sized Diamond Found, One Of Three Dug Up This Week

The world’s second-largest diamond ever found on Earth has been uncovered at a mine in Botswana — one of three massive gems found since Monday.

The huge stone is about the size of a tennis ball, CBC News reported. It’s 1,111 carats and at one-fifth a gram per, the second-largest gem weighs in at 222 grams. Though the ultimate value of the rock will depend on how it’s cut, it could be worth tens of millions of dollars.

“Given this stone is likely to be historically significant, the value could take on a life of its own,” analyst Phil Swinfen told the Wall Street Journal. “This is immensely good news for (the company), perhaps the best week in the company’s history.”

Swinfen estimated the diamond’s worth at $40 million to $60 million, based on recent sales; Lucara recently sold a 324-carat rock it unearthed in April for at least half that.

Lucara operates the Karowe Mine in the southern African nation of Botswana, where a machine found the second-largest diamond; they are based in Vancouver. The industry has been so profitable that the country has risen to a middle-income economy, BBC News noted. They, Namibia, and Lesotho are the continent’s greatest producers; Australia and Russia are also awash with diamonds.

Lesotho was the site of a whopper found in 2006 — the 603-carat Lesotho Promise, worth $12.4 million.

The second-largest diamond ever found is special because it’s of excellent quality and has almost no impurities, placing it in the category type IIa. This gives the gemstone the distinction of being the biggest of its category ever recovered and the biggest one dug up by a machine.

“I am truly at a loss for words,” said Lucara Chief Executive William Lamb. “We are truly blessed by this amazing asset.”

The only gem that eclipses this week’s discovery is the one spotted in the Cullinan mine (which recently produced the Blue Moon Diamond) in 1905. That rock was 3,106 carats and was cut into nine separate stones. Many of them are in the British Crown Jewels and have posh names — the Great Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa.

The discovery of the world’s second-largest diamond may just be the beginning for the Botswana mine, with more precious monstrosities awaiting their digging machines just below the surface. The precious gem was uncovered the same week as two smaller but no less “exceptional” ones: the biggest about 813-carats and the other 374, both dug up Thursday.

These three discoveries give a little boost to an industry that’s doing surprisingly poorly at the moment. Too many diamonds and not enough demand have decreased prices, and production is expected to peak in 2017. That year, experts have forecast the discovery of 164 million carats, followed by a long-term decline.

For now, Lucara is in no rush to sell the jewel. The company is considering three sales avenues as well as the option to sell it at its own auction, said a spokeswoman.

“The stones will attract a lot of attention from existing…buyers and new buyers yet to be identified.”

Hong Kong property tycoon, billionaire, and convicted criminal Joseph Lau is probably taking note of the Botswana rock for one of his young daughters. Last week, he purchased $77 million in precious gems for his 7-year-old daughter Josephine — including the aforementioned Blue Moon stone — and named them after her.

But if he is indeed interested, he’ll have to wait.

“I’m already getting emails saying, ‘Is the stone for sale?’” Lamb said. “We’re not desperate to sell it.”

[Image via Sararwut Jaimassiri/Shutterstock]