A 20.46-carat blue diamond discovered at the Debswana Orapa Mine late in 2018, which was initially a rough 41.11 carat stone, was finally made public last week.
Marcus ter Haar, managing director of Okavango Diamond Company, said in a statement: "It is incredibly unusual for a stone of this colour and nature to have come from Botswana - a once-in-lifetime find, which is about as rare as a star in the Milky Way."
The Okavango Blue Diamond is possibly the largest blue diamond ever to come from Botswana and is christened after one of Southern Africa’s biggest tourist attractions – the Okavango Delta. The gem is currently placed under Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) proprietorship.
It has been measured as much smaller than the historical Hope Diamond which weighs 45.52 carats and regarded as one of the most famous jewels in the world with ownership records dating back almost four centuries. However, the beauty is graded higher than the Hope Diamond.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) graded the diamond as "Very, Very Slightly Included," or VVS2, meaning inclusions -- internal imperfections -- "are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification." In comparison, the Hope Diamond received a "Very Slightly Included," or VS1 grade, according to the Smithsonian, meaning "inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification."
Further distinguishing the two one of a kind diamonds, Marcus ter Haar said the hope Diamond’s cut is not as precise as that of the Okavango Blue.
“A collector would look at the beauty of our diamond and say while it’s smaller, the colour, clarity and unmodified cut represent more value,” he said.
There has been a lot of secrecy surrounding the discovery of the gem. According to past reports, there was a 41-carat blue diamond discovered at Orapa mine last year which was placed under ODC. The discovery, which was the country’s first recorded since independence over 50 years ago was shrouded in mystery and secrecy. It was only later reported to the public after the President of Botswana, Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi was amongst the privileged few who got the opportunity to lay eyes on the monumental finding.
When the secrecy was blown out to the public by Sunday Standard, it was in an article titled “High Secretive Sale of Exceptional Diamond” earlier in the year.
Questions were raised as to why the diamond, the first of its kind to be discovered in the country had not been made public as with other discoveries that had made in Botswana before. The article purported that ODC Managing Director, Marcus ter Haar was, at the time shocked that the information had leaked out to the press and he insisted on knowing who the writer’s source was.
Despite the unveiling of the stone being the highlight of the week’s news, questions from the article have remained unanswered, such as why Botswana Diamond Trading Company (DTCB), Debswana Diamond Company, and ODC had remained quiet on the discovery, why other diamond buyers were not granted opportunity to bid for the diamond through an auction sale, why the government did not share the news of the discovery with various global diamond news platforms.
A statement from ODC believes that the Okavango Blue is in the very top bracket of all-time historical blue diamond ever unearthed.
Quite expensive and extravagant, blue diamonds close to what Okavango Blue properties has, over the years fetched between USD70 million and USD200 million across the world.
“The bright blue colour is attributed to the mineral boron, which was present in the rocks of oceans when the diamond was formed some 1 to 3 billion years ago” explains a statement from ODC, with the MD cementing that just a few such blue stones have come to market in the last decade. Of all coloured diamonds, blue ones are regarded the most unusual and their discovery a cause for celebration owing to their rarity.
Arguably, the most famous is the Hope Diamond, also known as Le Bijou du Roi ("the King's Jewel"), Le bleu de France ("France's Blue") and the Tavernier Blue. The massive, 45.52-carat, deep blue diamond is now kept at the United States of America National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
Recently, a couple of massive diamonds were discovered in Southern African.
Earlier this month, a 72-carat yellow diamond recovered from the Liqhobong mine in the Maluti mountains in Lesotho. Three other large diamonds were found at the mine recently, following a 910-carat monster from another mine in Lesotho last year.
Last month, a 425-carat diamond was discovered at a mine in Cullinan in South Africa.