Gem Diamonds shares up on better sales, prices and string of 100-carat plus rocks

Shares in Africa-focused Gem Diamonds (LON:GEMD) got a fresh boost on Friday after the miner said sales in the fourth quarter of 2017 were higher than in the previous three months, adding it also achieved better prices for its gems.

The company, which last month found the world’s fifth-biggest diamond in history at its flagship Letšeng mine in Lesotho, sold 31,476 carats during the three months through December, up 21% from 25,909 carats in the third quarter.

In January the company found a 910-carat stone, the world’s fifth-biggest diamond in history, about the size of two golf balls.

The firm achieved an average sale price of $2,217 per carat, up 19% from the second quarter, helping sales revenue rise by 45% to $69.8 million.

Shares in Gem Diamonds jumped on the news, trading more than 3% higher at 93.04 pence by 2:54PM London time. Year-to-date, the stock is up 15%.

Chief executive Clifford Elphick highlighted how the recovery of diamonds greater than 100 carats at Letšeng has not only continue this year, but seems to be picking up.

So far this year, said Elphick in a statement, the company has recovered five diamonds greater than 100 carats each.

Since acquiring Letšeng in 2006, Gem Diamonds has found about five of the 20 largest white gem quality diamonds ever recovered, which makes the mine the world’s highest dollar per carat kimberlite diamond operation.

At an average elevation of 3,100 metres (10,000 feet) above sea level, Letšeng is also one of the world’s highest diamond mines.

The biggest diamond ever found was the 3,106-carat Cullinan, dug near Pretoria, South Africa, in 1905. It was later cut into several stones, including the First Star of Africa and the Second Star of Africa, which are part of Britain's Crown Jewels held in the Tower of London. Lucara’s 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona was the second-biggest in record, while the 995-carat Excelsior and 969-carat Star of Sierra Leone were the third- and fourth-largest.