Tennis Ball-Sized Diamond Expected to Fetch More Than $70 Million at Auction


Got $70 million to spare? You could buy a home in Beverly Hills, several luxury helicopters, or, if you’re partial to rare gems, a tennis ball-sized diamond called the Lesedi la Rona.

The 1109-carat stone—the largest gem-quality diamond discovered in more than a century, and the second-largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found—was discovered in Botswana last November at a mine owned by Canada-based Lucara Diamond Corporation. Thanks to its size and exceptional transparency, the diamond is expected to fetch around (or even more than) $70 million when auctioneer Sotheby’s sells it in London on June 29, according to Yahoo News.

If it meets expectations, that $70 million price tag will be record-breaking. It's way more than the current record diamond price of $48.5 million, which Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau paid for the 12.03-carat polished “Blue Moon” diamond last November. (Lau gave the priceless gem to his 7-year-old daughter.)

“Not only is the rough superlative in size and quality, but no rough even remotely of this scale has ever been offered before at public auction,” David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s jewelry division, said in a release [PDF].

Lesedi la Rona, which means “our light” in the Tswana language of southern Africa, is enormous—but it’s still smaller than the largest diamond ever found, the Cullinan Diamond. The 3106-carat gem was dug up in South Africa in 1905. It was cut into nine polished stones, some of which adorn pieces of ceremonial regalia in the UK’s Crown Jewels collection.

Botswana is the world’s second-biggest diamond-supplying nation, behind Russia. Lesedi la Rona’s discovery was a high point in the nation’s mining history—but some experts predict the country’s diamond reserves will run out in as little as 15 years, leaving the country scrambling for another lucrative revenue source, The National reports.

[h/t Yahoo News]

Banner image courtesy of Lucara Diamond