Lucara Diamond Corporation President and CEO William Lamb knew that it was either very good or very bad news when his telephone rang at 1:28 a.m. Monday morning, November 16, Vancouver time.
It turned out to be the former, as he learned that workers at the company’s Karowe Mine in Botswana had recovered a “magnificent” stone: a 1,111 carat Type IIa diamond that goes down in the record books as the second largest gem quality diamond ever found.
Only the 3,106 carat Cullinan Diamond, which was discovered in January 1905 at the Premier mine in South Africa and later cleaved by Joseph Asscher, is bigger.
Workers recovered the stone from materials that originated in the mine’s south lobe, an area that has yielded three 300 carat plus rough diamonds this year, including a 342-carat stone that Lucara sold in July for $20.5 million.
Still, when that call came in Monday, Lamb was “very, very surprised,” he said in an interview Thursday morning.
While he isn’t shocked by the recovery of 300-, 400- or even 500-carat stones from the mine anymore, a 1,000-carat diamond is something differently entirely. “A thousand carats … I think it would be a surprise for anybody,” he said.
Mr. Lamb said the 1,111-carat diamond workers found Monday at the company’s Karowe Mine is “slightly smaller than a tennis ball.”
The diamond, which measures 65 mm x 56 mm x 40 mm, is too large to fit in any of the rough evaluation machines Lucara has onsite in Botswana and likely will be sent to Antwerp for further evaluation. Lamb, who has not yet seen the stone in person, said what he knows from his employees on the ground in Botswana is that the diamond is a Type IIa and likely is “top color,” meaning D, E or F, and high clarity as well.
This picture provided by Lucara shows how big the diamond is when compared to a loupe.
He said it is “almost impossible” at this point to estimate a sale price for the stone, or what it could yield in terms of polished diamonds.
But this diamond is much bigger, Lamb pointed out, and has added historical value as the world’s second largest diamond behind the Cullinan. It is also the largest diamond ever found in Botswana and the largest ever recovered through a modern processing facility.
Lucara, which accounts for only 0.83 percent of global diamond production but is responsible for a high percentage of the big diamond discoveries these days, found the 1,111-carat stone using its newly installed Large Diamond Recovery (LDR) XRT machines. The machines scan pre-cleaned material recovered from diamond mines for large chunks of carbon.
Also this week, the Vancouver-based mining company found another incredible diamond, an 813-carater discovered late Tuesday.
Lamb said more information on that diamond will be available next week.