24 April 2019

Botswana: Finally Unveiled - Botswana's Rarest Diamond Yet

Photo: Pixabay
File photo.

A 20.46 carat blue diamond discovered at the Debswana Orapa Mine late in 2018, which was initially a rough 41.11 carat stone, has finally been unveiled to the public.

Possibly the largest blue diamond ever to come from Botswana and named after one of the country's most popular tourists attractions - the Okavango Delta -, the 'Okavango Blue' currently under Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) proprietorship could easily be part of the same secret diamond discovered around the same time last year.

The Okavango Blue, much smaller than the historical Hope Diamond which weighs 45.52 carats and regarded as one of the most famous jewels in the world with ownership records dating back almost four centuries, is graded above the Hope diamond because of its purity.

Marcus Ter Haar - ODC Managing Director - made the statement at a media session to unveil the stone. He said the assessment was made by the California-based Gemological Institute of America.

Further distinguishing the two one of a kind diamonds, he said the hope Diamond's cut is not as precise as that of the Okavango Blue.

"A collector would look at the beauty of our diamond and say while it's smaller, the colour, clarity and unmodified cut represent more value," he said.

The secret discovery

According to past reports, there was a 41 carat blue diamond discovered at Orapa mine last year which was placed under ODC. The discovery, which was the country's first recorded since independence over 50 years ago was shrouded in mystery and it was reported that only the President of the Botswana, Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi was amongst the privileged few who got the opportunity to lay eyes on the monumental finding.

The secrecy surrounding the discovery was blown out to the public by an article in the Sunday Standard with the title, 'High secretive sale of exceptional diamond' dated 21 Jan 2019.

The article purported that ODC Managing Director, Marcus ter Haar was, at the time shocked that the information had leaked out to the press and he insisted on knowing who the writer's source was. Still in the article, the reporter noted that the scenario "raises suspicions as to why the blue diamond, the first of its kind to be discovered in Botswana, had not been revealed to the nation as with other precious stones before."

Despite the unveiling of the stone being the highlight of the week's news, questions from the article have remained unanswered, such as why Botswana Diamond Trading Company (DTCB), Debswana Diamond Company, and ODC had remained quiet on the discovery, why other diamond buyers were not granted opportunity to bid for the diamond through an auction sale, why the government did not share the news of the discovery with various global diamond news platforms.

Cost

A statement from ODC believes that the Okavango Blue is in the very top bracket of all-time historical blue diamond ever unearthed.

Quite pricy and extravagant, blue diamonds close to what Okavango Blue properties has, over the years fetched between USD70 million and USD200 million across the world.

"The bright blue colour is attributed to the mineral boron, which was present in the rocks of oceans when the diamond was formed some 1 to 3 billion years ago" explains a statement from ODC, with the MD cementing that just a few such blue stones have come to market in the last decade. Of all coloured diamonds, blue ones are regarded the most unusual and their discovery a cause for celebration owing to their rarity.

The company says the diamond is expected to be sold near the end of the year.

"It is incredibly unusual for a stone of this colour and nature to have come from Botswana - a once-in-lifetime find, which is about as rare as a star in the Milky Way," ter Haar declared.

Other blue diamonds

A little under three years ago, The Cullinan Dream was sold for USD 25.4 million at an auction in New York in 2016. The massive intense blue diamond broke all records and became the most expensive gem of its kind ever sold at auction.

Last year, a 6.16-carat blue diamond that had been secretly passed down through European royalty over three centuries was sold for USD 6.7 million at a Sotheby's auction in Geneva. The price exceeded the expected price by USD 1.4 million.

Arguably, the most famous is the Hope Diamond, also known as Le Bijou du Roi ("the King's Jewel"), Le bleu de France ("France's Blue") and the Tavernier Blue. The massive, 45.52-carat, deep blue diamond is now kept at the United States of America National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

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