Letšeng kicks off new year with massive discoveries


Bereng Mpaki

LETŠENG Diamonds began the new year in style, amid revelations that the diamond mining concern this week uncovered two diamonds each more than 100 carats each.

Gem Diamonds, which owns 70 percent of Letšeng Diamonds with the remainder held by the government of Lesotho, released a statement on Monday announcing the latest find.

One of the gems is a high-value 117 carat diamond and the other is a 110 carat Type IIa diamond.

“Gem Diamonds Limited is pleased to announce the recovery of high quality 117 and 110 carat, D colour Type IIa diamonds from the Letšeng mine in Lesotho, the highest dollar per carat kimberlite diamond mine in the world,” the company stated on its website.

The finds are the latest in the long line of impressive performance by the Letšeng Mine which also saw the recovery of a 115-carat diamond in September last year.

In June 2017, the mine recovered two large diamonds one a high-quality 104.73 carat, D-colour Type IIa diamond and the other a 151.52 carat Type I yellow diamond.

Before that in May 2017, the mine recovered a high-quality 80 carat, D colour Type II diamond, while in April it recovered a 114 carat, D colour Type II diamond of exceptional quality.

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 US$12.4 million to SAFDICO, the manufacturing arm of Graff Jewellers, at an auction in Antwerp in October 2006.

The Lesotho Promise was subsequently polished into 26 D flawless diamonds, the largest of which was a 76.4 carat pear-shaped diamond. The diamonds were fashioned into a single necklace that is expected to sell for in excess of US$50 million.

The 493 carat Letšeng Legacy

The Letšeng Legacy is currently ranked as the 16th largest rough white diamond ever recovered and was named to reflect the growing legacy that the Letšeng mine is creating as a producer of significant diamonds.

This remarkable 493 carat diamond, discovered in September 2007, was sold at an auction in Antwerp to SAFDICO for US$10.4 million in November 2007.

The 478 carat Light of Letšeng

The Leseli La Letšeng, which means Light of Letšeng, is a 478 carat D colour white diamond that was recovered from the Letšeng in September 2008. The name reflects the diamond’s remarkable colour and clarity, the highest possible quality for a white diamond. The diamond is currently ranked as the 17th largest rough white diamond ever to be recovered and was the third significant recovery from Letšeng in as many years. Initial analysis by expert diamantaires indicates that the stone could yield a D colour flawless round brilliant diamond of up to 150 carats, making it the largest diamond of its kind in history.

Light of Letšeng was sold on tender in Antwerp in November 2008 for US$18.4 million, to SAFDICO. The price represented an extraordinary price per carat of US$38 400, against a global average diamond price of US$90 per carat.

The 550ct Letšeng Star

The 550ct Letšeng Star was recovered from the Letšeng mine on 19 August 2011. The name was given to signify the growing number of “stars” in Letšeng’s growing constellation of large diamonds recovered. The Letšeng Star is currently ranked as the 14th largest white rough diamond on record and the second largest white diamond to be recovered at Letšeng.

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