‘Exceptional’ Blue Diamond Discovered in Famed South African Mine

A 29.6-carat rough blue diamond, one of the rarest and most coveted in the world with a possible price tag of tens of millions of dollars, has been discovered at the famed Cullinan mine in South Africa by mining company Petra Diamonds Ltd.

Petra describes the stone as “exceptional,” noting that it is an outstanding vivid blue with extraordinary saturation, tone and clarity, and has the potential to yield a polished stone of great value and importance.

Petra Chief Executive Johan Dippenaar told Reuters that this latest blue diamond discovery could outshine recent finds.

“By some margin … this is probably the most significant stone we’ve ever, in terms of blue stones, recovered,” Dippenaar said.

Located at the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountain range, approximately 23 miles northeast of Pretoria in South Africa, the Cullinan mine is one of the world’s most celebrated diamond mines. It’s renowned as a source of large rough diamonds and frequently yields diamonds larger than 10 carats. It has also produced more than 750 stones weighing more than 100 carats, 130 stones weighing more than 200 carats and approximately 25 percent of all diamonds weighing more than 400 carats.

It earned its place in history with the discovery of the Cullinan diamond in 1905, the largest rough diamond ever found at 3,106 carats. This iconic stone was cut into the two most important diamonds that form part of Britain’s Crown Jewels: the First Star of Africa, the largest flawless cut diamond in the world at 530 carats, which is mounted at the top of the Sovereign’s Sceptre, and the Second Star of Africa, a 317-carat polished diamond that forms the centerpiece of the Imperial State Crown.
Other notable diamonds found in the mine include the Premier Rose (353 carats rough), the Niarchos (426 carats rough), the De Beers Centenary (599 carats rough), the Golden Jubilee (755 carats rough) and the famous Taylor-Burton diamond (69 carats polished).  More recently, the Cullinan Heritage (507 carats rough) was recovered by Petra and sold for $35.3 million in February 2010, the highest price on record for a rough diamond.

The Cullinan mine is also renowned as the world’s most important source of blue diamonds, providing the collection of 11 rare blues— including the fancy vivid blue Heart of Eternity (27 carats polished)—that were displayed in 2000 at London’s Millennium Dome alongside the Millennium Star.

Petra acquired the Cullinan mine in 2008. Since then, it has discovered four significant blue diamonds, including a 25.5-carat blue diamond, which sold for $16.9 million in 2013, and The Star of Josephine, a 26.6-carat rough that yielded a 7-carat fancy vivid blue stone with internally flawless clarity, which sold for $9.49 million ($1.35 million per carat) at Sotheby’s in 2009. At the time, this was the highest price per carat for any gemstone sold at auction and the highest price for a fancy vivid blue diamond sold at auction. (The current record price per carat for any colored diamond sold at auction is $2,398,151 per carat for The Orange, a 14.82-carat fancy vivid orange diamond that sold on Nov. 12, 2013, at Christie’s Geneva sale of Magnificent Jewels.)

Petra is an independent diamond-mining group with interests in six producing mines: five in South Africa (Cullinan, Finsch, Helam, Kimberley Underground and Koffiefontein) and one in Tanzania (Williamson). It also maintains an exploration program in Botswana. Petra conducts all operations according to the highest ethical standards and will only operate in countries that are members of the Kimberley Process.

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