A rough diamond, the size of a tennis ball unearthed nearly two years ago by Canada's Lucara Diamond Corp has been sold for $53 million, according to the Vancouver-based company.
The 1,109-carat stone, which is the world's largest uncut diamond, was bought by high-profile UK diamond dealer Graff Diamonds for $47,777 per carat, and will now be cut and polished, Lucara said in a statement.
The price paid was an ''improvement'' on the highest bid received for the diamond at a Sotheby's auction in June 2016, according to Lucara chief executive and president William Lamb.
According to commentators, Lamb had gambled that ultra-rich collectors, who buy and sell precious art works for record-breaking sums at auction, would do the same with a diamond in the raw, but the bet failed when bids did not match the auction reserve price and the diamond remained unsold.
Lamb said in July that the unsold stone ''weighs heavily'' on the company's stock, which is down over 40 per cent in the past year.
The ''Lesedi La Rona,'' as the stone is called in the language of Botswana where it was mined at Lucara's Karowe mine in November 2015, is said to be 2.5 to 3 billion years old. ''Lesedi La Rona,'' translates to ''Our Light'' in English.
Meanwhile the company said in a press release:
("Lucara" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that the historic 1,109 carat Lesedi La Rona recovered from the Karowe mine in Botswana in November 2015 has been sold for US$53 million $47,777 per carat) to Graff Diamonds.
''We are thrilled and honoured to become the new custodians of this incredible diamond. The stone will tell us its story, it will dictate how it wants to be cut, and we will take the utmost care to respect its exceptional properties. This is a momentous day in my career, and I am privileged to be given the opportunity to honour the magnificent natural beauty of the Lesedi La Rona,'' Laurence Graff commented.
''The discovery of the Lesedi La Rona was a company defining event for Lucara. It solidified the amazing potential and rareness of the diamonds recovered at the Karowe mine. We took our time to find a buyer who would take the diamond through its next stage of evolution. The price paid is also an improvement on the highest bid received at the Sotheby's auction in June 2016. Graff Diamonds is now the owner of the Lesedi La Rona as well as the 373 carat diamond, purchased earlier this year, which formed part of the original stone. We are excited to follow these diamonds through the next stage of their journey,'' William Lamb, president and CEO, commented.