It was a great year for Africa-focused Gem Diamonds (LON:GEMD), as the company recovered a record number of huge precious stones from its flagship Letšeng mine in Lesotho.
With the two latest, a high quality 101 carat and 71 carat white Type IIa diamond, both recovered within a 24-hour period, the number of stones over 100 carats dug up at the mine reached a record 14, the company said Wednesday.
Early in the year, it found the 910-carat “Lesotho Legend”, one of the largest diamonds ever discovered, which sold for $40 million.
Since acquiring Letšeng in 2006, Gem Diamonds has found now 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.