Gem Diamonds Ltd has announced the recovery of a 198-carat white diamond from its flagship Letšeng Mine that should fetch “an exceptional price” when sold this year.
The company’s shares rose more than seven-percent to rank among the top gainers on the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday.
Letšeng Mine recovered the type IIa diamond from at the end of July and in a statement released this week, the company said the diamond displays no fluorescence.
Letšeng Mine is known for its large white diamonds, and since Gem Diamonds acquired a 70 percent stake in 2006, the mine has unearthed four of the 20 largest white gem-quality diamonds ever recorded. The government of Lesotho owns the other 30 percent.
“The recovery of this large, high-quality white diamond continues to support the Letseng mine’s reputation as the most important source of exceptional quality, large diamonds,” Gem Diamonds Chief Executive Clifford Elphick said in a statement.
Meanwhile, analysts at London-based Panmure Gordon said the diamond could be sold for “in excess of $10 million (M100million) and possibly as much as $15 million”, based on the price of similar stones from Letšeng sold since 2010.
At a tender in February, Gem Diamonds sold a 162.02-carat diamond for $11.1 million and a 161.31-carat stone for $2.4 million. Both diamonds were recovered from Letšeng in January.
“On that basis, a 198-carat diamond would be in the range of $2.9 million to $13 million,” analysts at Numis wrote in a note, adding that the price would depend on colour, clarity and expected polished yield.
“Either way, (it’s) another nice cherry plucked from the Letšeng cake,” they wrote.
Gem Diamonds, which is also developing a mine in Botswana, reported revenue of $212.8 million in 2013.
Famous Letšeng diamonds
Letšeng Mine is remarkable for its recovery of some of the world’s most valuable diamonds and achieves the highest US dollar per carat of any kimberlite mine in the world. Letšeng regularly produces diamonds of outstanding size and exceptional colour and to date, Letšeng has produced five of the 20 largest rough white gem diamonds on record.
In August 2011, a 550 carat white diamond, the Letšeng Star, was recovered at Letšeng and is currently ranked as the 14th largest white diamond ever recorded. Other famous Letšeng diamonds include:
The 601 carat Lesotho Brown
Discovered in 1967, the 601 carat Lesotho Brown diamond was the first significant diamond to be recovered at Letšeng and led to the formal development of the Letšeng mine. Harry Winston acquired the diamond, and the cleaving of the Lesotho Brown Diamond into two pieces was broadcast live on American television in 1968.
The polishing was completed in a year and resulted in eighteen gemstones, the largest of which was the Lesotho I, a 71.73 carat flawless emerald cut diamond with a pale pink hue.
The Star of Lesotho
The Star of Lesotho was a spectacular white diamond of 123 carats, recovered at Letšeng in October 2004, days before the official re-opening of the mine. Acquired by SAFDICO in November 2004, it was cut into a heart-shaped diamond of 53.11 carats and subsequently sold by Graff Jewellers.
The 603 carat Lesotho Promise
The 603 carat Lesotho Promise was recovered by Letšeng mine in August 2006.The Lesotho Promise is currently ranked as the world’s 12th largest white diamond on record and the largest diamond to emerge from the Letšeng mine to date and is the largest rough white diamond to be recovered this century. The Lesotho Promise was sold for $12.4 million to SAFDICO, the manufacturing arm of Graff Jewellers, at an auction in Antwerp in October 2006.