Lesotho Mine Yields 108-Carat Pink Diamond
Awaiting a name, the rare gem is one of the largest pink diamonds ever recovered.
Unearthed at the end of March and described by the company as a fancy intense pink, it is one of the largest pink diamonds ever recovered, the company said. It is substantially larger than the 47.81-carat “Pink Eternity” mined last fall, which previously held the record as the largest pink diamond unearthed at the Kao mine.
Like many other pink stones from Kao, the 108-carat diamond is a rare Type IIa stone. GIA describes Type IIa diamonds as having an “exceptionally pure chemical composition” with “negligible amounts of nitrogen or boron.”
The Lesotho Minister of Natural Resources Mohlomi Moleko said the stone is one of the most significant diamonds found to date in Lesotho.
Other notable stones recently recovered from the Kao mine include the 25.97-carat “Pink Dawn” in 2021, the 21.86-carat “Pink Palesa” in 2021, the 29.59-carat “Rose of Kao” in 2018, and the 36.06-carat “Pink Storm” in 2013.
Storm Mountain Diamonds said the new diamond has not been named, but there is a list of names submitted by the mining team in Lesotho up for selection.
Storm Mountain Diamonds has operated the Kao kimberlite diamond mine since 2010. Jointly owned by Storm Mountain Diamonds Ltd. and the Government of Lesotho, it is located in the Butha-Buthe District of Lesotho.
The kimberlite pipe is the fourth largest in southern Africa and the largest in Lesotho, which is home to a few diamond mines including Letšeng, known for its output of large diamonds.
The Kao mine sits at 2,500 meters above sea level and is one of the world’s highest gemstone operations, according to the Storm Mountain Diamonds website.
Discovered by Colonel Scott and his exploration team in the 1950s, Kao showed potential as a diamondiferous mine, though the grade and value of the diamonds were initially low.
Artisanal miners and organized cooperatives mined it until 2006, when Kao Diamond Mines Ltd. acquired the mining lease from the Lesotho government.
The company struggled with poor production, exporting only about 7,000 carats over three years, and eventually liquidated in 2009, with Storm Mountain Diamonds coming onto the scene the following year.
While the miner has yet to share when or how this newly discovered pink diamond will be sold, it’s an interesting time for the pink diamond market.
Nearly a decade ago, the 36-carat “Pink Storm” that put Kao on the map as a serious pink diamond producer sold for $15.4 million, or about $426,000 per carat.
Pink diamond sales have trended upward from there, but auction prices have fluctuated.
In 2022, the 11.15-carat internally flawless “Williamson Pink Star” set a new price-per-carat record when Sotheby’s Hong Kong sold it for $57.7 million, or $5.2 million per carat.
The following month at Christie’s Geneva, the “Fortune Pink,” an 18.18-carat fancy vivid pink, sold for considerably less, topping out at $28.8 million, or around $1.5 million per carat.
Now, many eagerly await to see the figure garnered by “The Eternal Pink,” the 10.57-carat internally flawless, fancy vivid purplish pink diamond that will headline Sotheby’s June 8 jewelry auction in New York.
Mined in Botswana in 2019, the diamond is projected to sell for at least $35 million, or $3.3 million per carat, the highest price-per-carat estimate placed on a diamond or gemstone offered at auction, according to the auction house.
Sotheby’s described it as “arguably the most significant pink diamond to ever appear at auction.”
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