A rare and exceptional 122-carat white diamond has been discovered at the Letšeng mine in Lesotho, southern Africa. The mine, which is jointly owned by Gem Diamonds and the Lesotho government, announced the discovery in a statement this week.
The diamond is of D colour and Type II quality, meaning it has no measurable nitrogen impurities and is very pure. It is the first diamond of over 100 carats that the mine has recovered this year. The mine is known for producing large and high-quality diamonds, but the number of such stones has been declining in recent years.
Last year, the mine only retrieved four diamonds of over 100 carats, compared to six in 2021 and 16 in 2020. The lack of special-size stones had affected the mine’s revenue, which fell by six percent to US$186.6 million in 2022.
The Letšeng mine is situated high in the Maluti Mountains in the Kingdom of Lesotho, a landlocked country surrounded by South Africa. The mine has a mining lease granted by the Lesotho government in 1999. Gem Diamonds owns 70 percent of the mine while the government owns the remaining 30 percent.
The mine also has a Diamond Discovery Centre, which is an interactive exhibition that tells the story of diamonds in general, diamonds in Lesotho, and the Letšeng mine. The centre is open to visitors who can make an appointment with the curator.
The value of the 122-carat diamond has not been disclosed yet, but it is expected to fetch a high price at auction. In 2018, the mine sold a 910-carat diamond, which was the fifth-largest gem-quality diamond ever found, for US$40 million.