LONDON, May 5 (UPI) — A 1,100-carat rough diamond found in southern Africa last fall — about the size of a baseball — is expected to sell for more than $70 million next month when it hits the auction block in Great Britain, experts said Wednesday.
The Lesedi la Rona was discovered at Lucara Diamond Corp.’s Karowe mine in Botswana in November. It measures 1,109-carats and is believed to be between 2.5 billion and 3 billion years old.
“The Lesedi la Rona is simply outstanding and its discovery is the find of a lifetime,” David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s Jewelry Division, said in a news release Wednesday. “It is a huge honor for Sotheby’s to have been entrusted with its sale.”
Sotheby’s added that the diamond will be the largest to hit any auction block in the world, ever.
“Every aspect of this auction is unprecedented. 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,” Bennett stated.
It took experts months to appraise the stone because it is too large to measure with conventional equipment. Lesedi la Rona translates to “Our Light” in Botswana’s native Tswana language. Its approximate dimensions are 66.4 x 55 x 42 mm — or roughly the size of a baseball.
Sotheby’s said it has the potential to be “the largest top-quality polished diamond in existence.” Experts also say it’s likely any resulting polished stones from the diamond will likely carry a “D” color classification, the highest for white diamonds.
The Lesedi la Rona is the second-largest rough diamond ever to be discovered, behind the 3,100-carat Cullinan Diamond found near Pretoria, South Africa, in 1905. That diamond was subsequently cut and polished into several pieces — some of which are now part of the British Crown Jewels. The largest piece, called the Star of Africa, weighs 530-carats.
The diamond will be put on display at Sotheby’s New York on Saturday and in London next month ahead of the auction, the auctioneer said.