The fifth-largest diamond on record has sold for $40 million. The gem, which was unearthed in January from the Letšeng mine in the Southern African nation of Lesotho, weighs in at 910 carats and is a Type IIa D color stone. Its original owners, U.K.-based mining company Gem Diamonds Ltd., reportedly sold the diamond on March 12 to Samir Gems, an Antwerp-based supplier run by India’s Bhansali family. The gem, which is roughly the size of two golf balls, has been named “the Lesotho Legend.”
“We are delighted with the outcome of the sale of this iconic diamond, which demonstrates the exceptional quality of the Lesotho Legend itself, as well as reaffirming the unique quality of the Letšeng diamond production,” said Gem Diamonds CEO Clifford Elphick in a statement from the company, which owns 70 percent of the Letšeng mine in Lesotho.
The Letšeng mine is world-renowned for producing large, high-quality diamonds—its gems have the highest average selling price in the world. Only seven D-color diamonds weighing more than 100 carats have ever come up for sale. Though the Lesotho Legend is notable for its size and quality, its price works out to $43,956 per carat, significantly less than the world-record per-carat price for a rough diamond, which is $77,649. That record was set by the 812.77-carat Constellation, which was mined by Lucara Diamond Corp. in Botswana and sold for $63 million at auction in 2016.
Gem Diamonds Ltd. is well-versed in big diamonds. They sold a 357-carat stone for $19.3 million in 2015 and in 2006 found the 603-carat Lesotho Promise. The company excavated a dozen diamonds that exceeded 100 carats in 2015, five in 2016, and at least seven stones larger than 100 carats last year.
The auction record for any diamond is held by the Pink Star, which sold for $71 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2017.