Completely surrounded by South Africa, its only neighboring country, the diminutive Kingdom of Lesotho is a world-class powerhouse when it comes to producing large, top-quality diamonds.
Five of the 20 largest gem-quality white diamonds ever recorded were unearthed at Lesotho’s Letšeng mine — a mine that consistently yields the highest per-carat value of any kimberlite diamond mine in the world.
Recently, British mining company Gem Diamonds Ltd. revealed still another amazing find at Letšeng — a gem-quality rough diamond weighing in at 164 carats. Despite it being much smaller than its gigantic cousins — the 603-carat Lesotho Promise and the 550-carat Letšeng Star — the newest find was quickly scooped up for $9 million.
Gem Diamonds Ltd. reported that the rough diamond was transported to Antwerp, where gem experts are determining its potential value as a faceted gemstone. In addition to computer analysis, they will be polishing a surface of the diamond to open a clear "window" into the center of the stone.
Depending on what they find, the D-color, Type IIa rough could be divided to yield a number of flawless polished diamonds, or if it is internally flawless, it will likely be kept as one single stone. A flawless diamond of this size has the potential to break previous price records if and when it sells at auction.
At 10,000 feet above sea level, Letšeng has the distinction of being the world’s highest diamond mine. Gem Diamonds Ltd. has a 70% stake in the mine and The Kingdom of Lesotho owns 30%.