The world’s third largest diamond – a 1,098-carat, three-inch gem – has been found in Botswana by local firm Debswana.
The stone, found on June 1, was presented to President Mokgweetsi Masisi in the capital Gaborone on Wednesday by Debswana Diamond Company’s acting managing director Lynette Armstrong.
The gem, found in Jwaneng, the world’s richest mine, will be valued in the next few weeks.
‘It is believed to be the third largest gem-quality find in the world,’ Armstrong said.
The ‘rare and extraordinary stone… means so much in the context of diamonds and Botswana,’ she said. ‘It brings hope to the nation that is struggling.’
It is the third largest in the world. The biggest diamond ever discovered in the world was the 3,106-carat Cullinan, found in South Africa in 1905.
The 1905 find was named after the mine’s founder, Thomas Cullinan, and was eventually bought by the Transvaal Colony government and presented to the then King of England, Edward VII.
The second largest was 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona – a diamond the size of a tennis ball, discovered at Karowe, northeastern Botswana, in 2015.
The latest find is the biggest stone of gem quality to be recovered in the 50-year history of the company, a joint venture between the government and global diamond giant De Beers, Armstrong said.
‘From our preliminary analysis it could be the world’s third largest gem quality stone’, Armstrong added.
‘We are yet to make a decision on whether to sell it through the De Beers channel or through the state owned Okavango Diamond Company.’
A Debswana spokesperson said the company would sell the diamond in a way that ‘ensures it returns maximum benefit for the people of Botswana’
The diamond measures 73mm long, 52mm wide and 27mm thick.
Minerals minister Lefoko Moagi said the discovery of the yet-to-be named stone, could not have come at a better time after the COVID-19 pandemic hit diamond sales in 2020.
The government receives as much as 80 per cent of the income from Debswana’s sales through dividends, royalties and taxes.
Production at Debswana fell 29 per cent in 2020 to 16.6 million carats, down from 23.3 million in 2019.
Sales fell 30 per cent to $2.1 billion as the pandemic impacted both production and demand.
In 2021, Debswana plans to increase output by as much as 38 per cent to pre-pandemic levels of 23 million carats as the global diamond market recovers with the easing of travel restrictions and reopening of jewelers.
Botswana is Africa’s leading diamond producer.
The rare commodity accounts for 90 per cent exports.