Miners from the Lucara Diamond Company recently unearthed this massive diamond in Botswana. Weighing in at 257 uncut carats, it’s worth its weight in—well, diamond. The rich Orapa Kimberlite Field, on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, has produced other notable diamonds. Company officials say 14 diamonds over 100 carats were found this year in the same mine.
Stunning rocks like this take billions of years to form deep inside the planet. Eventually, if we’re lucky, they find their way to the surface via geologic processes (usually a volcano) or human exploration.
Think of it this way: when you wear a fine-cut gem, you’re illuminating a small part of Earth’s spectacular history.
But, no one will be wearing this jewel in its current condition. Diamonds fresh out of the dirt are dull misshapen stones—an untrained eye wouldn’t even notice an uncut diamond on the side of the road. Most diamonds don’t even get the chance to shine. Instead, they’re used in diamond-coated cutting tools, electronics and for science experiments.
It takes the right specimen and a legion of skilled craftspeople to turn a rough diamond into an exquisite piece of jewelry.
First, jewelers study and analyze the structure of the specimen and decide the first big cuts. Although it’s true that diamonds are the hardest mineral, due to their crystalline structure, a mistake during the refining process can shatter any financial dreams the owner has. You can try this at home. The next time you have an extra diamond, smash it with a hammer. It’s guaranteed that the resulting pile of dust and shards will no longer be so precious.
After cutting it into manageable pieces, the diamond is ground and polished into a brilliant trillion, princess, or other classic diamond cut. The finished jewel is then sold wholesale. You’ve surely seen a black velvet bag of loose diamonds in movies—that really happens. Finally, the diamond ends up mounted in a piece of jewelry for you to admire and purchase.
But, back to this magnificent diamond.
A carat is equal to two tenths of a gram, so this hefty mineral weighs about 50 grams—that’s the same as 10 U.S. Nickels and little bit more than the amount of sugar in a 16 oz. bottle of Coca-Cola. Unfortunately, while it would cut the calories, replacing the sugar in your Coke with diamond dust isn’t recommended.
Of course, you’re wondering how much these 257 carats are worth. That depends on how it’s cut, its clarity and when it’s bought. There isn’t a standard rough diamond price because each specimen has its own unique properties. But, if you have to take a guess, a 507 carat rough diamond found in South Africa sold for $35.5 million in 2010. That’s a lot of money for an egg-sized rock, and that’s the rough price. Once it’s prepared into individual pieces and sold at retail, the actual value of a diamond is exponentially more.
Someday in the future, you might even own a piece of this magnificent mineral. If you have the money, it could happen.