The world’s largest rough diamond — and the second-largest ever discovered — failed to sell at auction in London on Wednesday, after all bids fell short of the minimum reserve price. Auction house Sotheby’s had a pre-auction estimate of $70 million for the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona (meaning “Our Light” in Botswana’s Tswana language), but the highest bid was $61 million.
The failure to sell came as a surprise to many in the industry as a string of large and spectacular diamonds have sold for fantastic prices in the recent past.
The current record price for a diamond at auction is the $48.5 million paid at a Geneva sale last year for the 12.03-carat polished "Blue Moon" diamond. Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau picked it up as a gift for his 7-year-old daughter.
The Lesedi La Rona was unearthed by Canadian miner Lucara Diamond in November last year. It is the size of a tennis ball and according to Sotheby’s, its exceptional colour and clarity could yield the largest top quality diamond every cut an polished.
The colour and transparency are typical of Type IIa diamonds. It is second in size only to the Cullinan, which was discovered in 1905 in South Africa and weighed more than 3,000 carats. The Cullinan was later cut into several smaller stones.