Biggest diamond for sale in century fails to find buyer in London auction
The 1,109-carat diamond Lesedi la Rona was expected to fetch about $70 million which could have made it the most expensive rough gem on record, however, the highest bid was well shy at $61 million.
“Sotheby’s orchestrated a worldwide marketing campaign that garnered huge levels of interest, but the auction just seemed to stall,” Edward Sterck, an analyst with BMO Capital Markets in London was cited by Bloomberg. “It’s unclear what happens next. We would see the potential for a private sale,” he added.
The tennis ball-sized Lesedi la Rona was found in Botswana in November by Canadian mining company Lucara Diamonds. It is the biggest diamond discovered in more than 100 years and is believed to be about three billion years old.
When unearthed, the size of the gem amazed the experts. Sotheby’s called the discovery "the find of a lifetime," and said "every aspect of the auction was unprecedented.” It was the first time a rough diamond of such a size has gone on public sale.
Lucara Diamonds CEO William Lamb said the rough stone could become a gem of about 400 carats once cut and polished but the company decided there was less risk and more immediate value to shareholders by selling it in its rough form.
After the failed sale on Wednesday Lucara stock fell as much as 18 percent in Toronto, the biggest intraday decline since September 2013. At the end of trading company shares were down 15 percent.
Lesedi La Rona is second in size to the Cullinan Diamond, which was discovered in 1905 in South Africa and weighed more than 3,000 carats. It was later cut into nine major gemstones and 96 smaller stones. One of them, the Great Star of Africa gem, now adorns the British Royal Scepter which is on display at the Tower of London.