The largest rough diamond unearthed in more than a century, and the second largest in history, has been unveiled by Graff Diamonds

Last year, London-based jewellery company Graff Diamonds acquired the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona rough diamond. The 2016 purchase was a US$53 million deal and—as it turns out—a steal, with the rough originally boasting an estimate of more than US$70 million.

Usually rough diamonds are sold privately to dealers who cut and polish them into finished gems, but William Lamb, then-CEO of Lucara Diamond Corporation, decided to sell the discovery in a standalone public auction at Sotheby’s London, which proved risky–much to the delight of Graff Diamonds.

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Above Laurence Graff, founder of Graff Diamonds, inspects the Graff Lesedi La Rona. (Photography: Courtesy of Graff Diamonds)

It was Graff’s intention from the get-go to cut the rough diamond—the second largest ever discovered—into a host of smaller diamonds. And now, it has unveiled the principal diamond cut and polished from the spectacular Lesedi La Rona, appropriately named the Graff Lesedi La Rona.

Weighing 302.37 carats, it is the largest square emerald cut diamond in existence, and the largest highest colour and clarity diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Lesedi La Rona means "Our Light" in Tswana, the main language of Botswana, which is where the rough was discovered at the Lucara Karowe mine.

The sheer size of the Graff Lesedi La Rona posed a challenge for gemologists tasked with analysing and cutting the stone. Firstly, it was too big for their equipment. A new scanner had to be built specifically for this diamond, which is equipped with imaging software to determine what kind of cut would lead to the most brilliant jewel. According to Graff, this process took more than 18 months.

Alongside the Graff Lesedi La Rona, a total of 66 smaller jewels have been polished from the rough, ranging in size from under a carat to in excess of 26, ensuring that there is something for everyone. What are you waiting for?

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