x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Giant diamond showcased in Dubai

The diamond, a 478-carat white gem, measuring more than five centimetres long is worth upwards of Dh36.7 million (US$10m).

The 478 carat Light of Letseng diamond, in Dubai, Nov 8 2008.
The 478 carat Light of Letseng diamond, in Dubai, Nov 8 2008.

A giant rough diamond mined from South Africa, and expected to be snapped up by a local buyer, was named in Dubai yesterday. The diamond, a 478-carat white gem, measuring more than five centimetres long and worth upwards of Dh36.7 million (US$10m) was named after the Lesotho mine where it was uncovered in December: the Leseli La Letseng, or Light of Letseng. It is the 20th largest diamond in the world. "The naming of what could become the largest-ever polished round diamond is another success story for Dubai," said Ahmed bin Sulayam, executive chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC). There is a strong demand for the stones in Dubai, which is what prompted the diamond's unveiling during the Middle East China Diamond and Jewellery Summit, at the Atlantis hotel on Palm Jumeirah. Diamonds are increasingly seen as the first choice luxury item in the Gulf, which has traditionally been known as the "city of Gold", said Peter Meuss, special adviser of diamonds at the DMCC. "We now have the best facilities and the latest technology in the world for polishing diamonds," said Mr Meuss. "In the current economic climate it is sales from the Gulf that will drive the market forward and Dubai is central to the shift in demand from West to East." The Lesotho government's diamond industry director, Tiisetso Sello-Mafatle, said she chose the name to reflect the beauty of both the diamond and Lesotho itself. "The discovery of such a beautiful diamond is a proud moment for Lesotho," she said. "We hope that it will raise the profile of the economic capacity of Lesotho and help promote ecotourism." The Letseng mine is the most elevated diamond mine in the world, which is why its stones have been described as "diamonds from the sky". Since opening in 2004, the mine has produced three of the twenty largest diamonds ever discovered. The mine is jointly owned by GEM, a British based company, and the Lesotho government. The origin of diamonds and methods under which they have been obtained has become an increasingly important factors for buyers. tbrooks@thenational.ae