When the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona was discovered in 2015 in Botswana, it made history as the world’s second largest gem-quality diamond — surpassed only by the 3,106-carat Cullinan.
Then Laurence Graff got hold of it.
The London-based diamantaire paid $53 million for the tennis ball-size rough gem in 2017, and soon, the Lesedi La Rona — which means “our light” in the Tswana language of southern Africa — ceased to exist.
Mr. Graff initially had 66 stones, ranging in size from less than a carat to around 26 carats, cut from the rough diamond.
They were presented in groups, beginning last November. Then last month came the debut of the largest diamond: a 302.37-carat colorless stone named the Graff Lesedi La Rona.
“It is the largest square emerald-cut diamond in the world,” Mr. Graff said in an email.
Elaborating on the 18-month-long cutting and polishing process, which included nearly a year of analysis by master craftsmen and gemologists in Antwerp, Belgium, Mr. Graff said “the stone was at risk virtually every day.”
“A miscalculation of the diamond’s properties, or too much heat or pressure, could have prevented us from reaching our goal of surpassing the 300-carat mark,” he said. “Cutting and polishing diamonds is an extremely perilous process, and the stone takes shape very gradually, day by day, millimeter by millimeter.”
Releasing the smaller stones “was a straightforward decision from both a practical and passionate perspective,” Mr. Graff said.
“We knew the principal diamond would take a very long time for us to polish, and we wished to introduce our clients to the magnificent results from the Lesedi La Rona as soon as possible.”
He added that 60 percent — or about 40 — of the stones had been sold.
Asked about the prospects for the Graff Lesedi La Rona, whose price he declined to reveal, Mr. Graff cautioned that such sales “take time.”
“The Cullinan diamond, the only diamond to ever exceed the carat weight of the Lesedi La Rona, remained unsold for two years,” he said. VICTORIA GOMELSKY
Sources from: The New York Times