$70 million, 1,109 carat diamond heads to auction

Source: Sotheby's

One of the largest and oldest gem-quality diamonds ever discovered will be sold by Sotheby's in London next month.

The three million year old, 1,109 carat diamond was unearthed last November at Lucara Diamond Corporation's Karowe mine in Botswana, Africa.

Lucara is a member of the Lundin Group and is listed on the TSX Exchange, NASDAQ OMX First North Exchange and Botswana Stock Exchange.

The Karowe mine produces less than one percent of the world's diamonds, but more than half of those mined stones are both Type IIA pure white and over hundred carats.

Dubbed "Lesedi la Rona," or "our light" in the Tswana language, this particular gem could sell in excess of $70 million dollars. Roughly the size of a tennis ball, It measures 66.4 x 55 x 42 mm. inches and is second in size only to the 3,016 carat "Cullinan" diamond mined in South Africa in 1905 and produced nine diamonds which are part of the historic Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom,

David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby's jewelry division, called the unprecedented discovery a "find of a lifetime"

"Not only is the rough superlative in size and quality, but no rough even remotely of this scale has ever been offered before at public auction," said Bennett.

Because of its "exceptional" transparency, the stone, when cut and polished, could yield the biggest high quality diamond in history.

According to a study by the Gemological Institute of America, Lesedi La Rona is part of a rare subgroup which comprises two percent of all gem diamonds considered the most chemically pure.

The largest existing diamond sale was set last year when Hong Kong industrialist Joseph Lau paid $46.5 million for a 12.08 carat polished blue diamond. According to Sotheby's, which handled the sale. the "Blue Moon" diamond was a gift for Lau's seven year old daughter.

Sotheby's will auction the Lesedila Rona on June 29 in London.