How a 910ct. Rough Became a Sparkling Van Cleef Collection

Lesotho Legend, a 910-carat, type IIa

The Baselworld fair has received much criticism in recent years, but one of the final shows before its public implosion appears to have facilitated a diamond deal that counts among the biggest in history.

Antwerp-based manufacturers Taché and Samir Gems came to the March 2018 exhibition with the exquisite Lesotho Legend, a 910-carat, type IIa diamond they had bought together from Gem Diamonds for $40 million earlier that month. At the time, jewelers such as Graff and Harry Winston dominated the big-stone market. Displaying the massive rough at the prestigious Swiss event could help drum up broader interest in the category, Taché and Samir believed.

“We felt that the market was a bit saturated between one or two players,” says Jean-Jacques Taché, managing director for sales at Taché, from his office in Tel Aviv, Israel. “So we thought, let’s bring it to Basel, let’s…showcase the [rough], and let’s see the reactions.”

Plenty of visitors wanted selfies with the stone, which came from the famous Letšeng mine in Lesotho. Some suggested buying a sliver of the piece — polished of, say, 5 to 20 carats, Taché recalls. However, “none of them were really committed at that point to enter into a venture.”

The exception was Van Cleef & Arpels, a Richemont-owned luxury brand that, Taché explains, had been somewhat pulling back from big stones in recent years.

“From the minute they saw it, [Van Cleef] started to talk about the idea that they had,” the executive adds. The timing was perfect: The luxury brand had just finished a ruby collection and was seeking a new project on which to spend a few years. “Sometimes you need a lot of things to happen at the same time in order to make it a success.”

The buying executive representing Van Cleef needed approval from Nicolas Bos, the brand’s CEO, and the Richemont team. Not long after the event, Taché, Samir and Van Cleef signed an agreement calling for the jeweler to buy the final polished. The condition was that the finished goods met the French house’s high quality criteria.

Long wait

Only this month did Van Cleef reveal the finished jewelry, more than four years after the initial pitch. The result was a unique collection of 25 Mystery Set jewels featuring 67 D-flawless diamonds. The largest is an oval, 79.35-carat stone that takes pride of place in a necklace called Atours Mystérieux, meaning “mysterious attire.” The smallest is 0.29 carats. The parties have not disclosed the polished sale price.

Taché and Samir both took heavy risks by splurging on the rough back in 2018. (Gem Diamonds publicly named Samir as the buyer: As is often the case, a miner only invoices one entity, but the purchase was really a 50:50 partnership.)

The two companies have a long-standing collaboration, having also bought the 341.9-carat Queen of Kalahari together from Lucara Diamond Corp. a few years earlier. They sold that polished to Chopard. Samir has its expertise in purchasing large rough stones; Taché specializes more in relationships with the top jewelry brands.

“We’re the most successful Jewish-Indian partnership on the market, by far,” says Taché.

They outsourced the cutting and polishing to Diamcad, an Antwerp firm that also manufactured the Lesedi La Rona for Graff. The goods went for grading at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in New York, where all the stones received Diamond Origin Reports stating that they were from the Lesotho Legend.

Van Cleef took delivery of the polished as each stone was ready between January 2019 and March 2020, Taché notes. However, Covid-19 delayed the launch, as Van Cleef had been hoping to hold roadshows.

; Jean-Jacques Taché and Anjal Bhansali

Quality over size

The manufacturers agreed to include Van Cleef throughout the process, including in the planning and design. The Taché and Samir teams even traveled with Van Cleef’s Bos to Lesotho in May 2019 to experience the Letšeng mine and learn about the local community there.

The brand would accept only flawless goods, so quality became a higher priority than size. The planning process, which took about seven months in 2018, saw the parties review around 180 possible combinations of outcomes. None of them included any “monster” stones, they note.

“Instead of 67 stones, you could also have a model with probably 12 pieces only, but [it would have been] much less interesting in terms of creation,” Taché continues.

There were other complicating factors. Van Cleef tends to avoid round and heart-shaped diamonds. It also wanted matching pairs: “Practically every stone in this collection between 10 and 30 carats is a couple,” he points out.

“If we went for something which was 100-carats-plus, we would have had to go into the VS range,” comments Antwerp-based Anjal Bhansali, managing director at Samir. The team even broke up a stone of roughly 75 carats into two matching stones weighing around 30 carats each, Bhansali reveals.

Boost for big stones

The manufacturers hope the collection will succeed in reinvigorating the large-diamond sector, expanding it beyond the traditional two giants.

“The goal is to create more awareness for big stones in the market and to bring in new players,” Taché concludes. “We started it with Chopard. We [are continuing] this now with Van Cleef.”

It’s unclear whether the Basel show will ever return. However, everyone involved in the Lesotho Legend project will agree that the 2018 edition was well worth it.

 Atours Mystérieux necklace.

Source: Diamonds.net

Gem Diamonds finds 129-carat diamond in Lesotho

129 carat rough diamond

Africa focused Gem Diamonds has found a 129 carat rough stone at its Letšeng mine in Lesotho, the miner’s first one over 100 carats mined this year.

The high quality white diamond was recovered at the site over the weekend, Gem Diamonds said. The company, known for the recovery of large, high quality stones in 2020, has seen output of those diamonds become less frequent over the past year.

In 2021, Gem Diamonds found only six diamonds over 100 carats at Letšeng. This compares to 16 rocks of more than 100 carats discovered in 2020.

The find comes as prices for small diamonds have jumped about 20% since the start of March, as cutters, polishers and traders struggle to source stones outside Russia.

State-owned Alrosa, the world’s top diamond producer by output, was hit with US sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Higher prices for lower end stones are good news for miners, but not a game changer, experts say. While every mine is different, a general rule of thumb is that 20% of production the best stones account for about 80% of profits.

Since acquiring Letšeng in 2006, Gem Diamonds has found more than 60 white gem quality diamonds over 100 carats each.

Since acquiring Letšeng in 2006, the company has found more than 60 white gem quality diamonds over 100 carats each, with 16 of them recovered last year.

At an average elevation of 3,100 metres (10,000 feet) above sea level, Letšeng is also one of the world’s highest diamond mines.

Source: mining.com

Lucapa says 204 carat diamond recovered at Mothae mine in Lesotho

Lucapa 204 carat rough diamond
Lucapa 204 carat rough diamond

Lucapa Diamond Company yesterday announced the recovery of a 204 carat diamond from the Mothae mine in Lesotho.

According to the company’s statement, the 204 carat white stone is the eighth +100 carat diamond and third +200 carat to be recovered from the Mothae mine since commercial mining commenced in January 2019, underlining its unique large stone nature.

Lucapa Diamond Company is an ASX listed diamond miner and explorer with assets in Africa and Australia. It has interests in two producing diamond mines in Angola (Lulo) and Lesotho (Mothae).

“The large, high-value diamonds produced from these two niche African diamond mines attract some of the highest prices per carat for rough diamonds globally,” the company said.

The Lulo mine has been in commercial production since 2015, while the Mothae mine commenced commercial production in 2019.

Source: kitco

Lesotho joins the diamond league

Lesotho rough diamonds

The auction came as the Mountain Kingdom explores how to ensure diamond mines are at least 51 percent-owned by locals, which will include the entry of small-scale miners into the sector.

Lesotho’s diamonds are usually auctioned in Antwerp, Belgium. Buyers from as far as the Netherlands and Israel were joined by those from neighbouring South Africa and locals at the inaugural auction.

Launched by Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu, the auction sold off diamonds collected from the public and those confiscated by the police in recent months. Of the 493 diamonds auctioned, 140 were voluntarily handed over by the public while 353 were confiscated by the police.

The government offered an amnesty from November 2020 to March 2021 to anyone in possession of undocumented diamonds, allowing them to hand the gems over without fear of prosecution. The auction was held from May 27 to 29.

Mining Minister Serialong Qoo said all revenue from the confiscated diamonds would be forfeited to the state and proceeds from gems voluntarily handed to the government would be paid into the holders’ bank accounts.

“I am very delighted that this day has finally come after it was initially delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a big move as parliament has now embraced the idea of letting Basotho mine with their picks and shovels legally,” said Minister Qoo.

Mining Ministry spokesperson Ms ‘Makananelo Motseko this week said a final report on the auction was being compiled and would be made public.

At the auction, Deputy PM Mr Mokhothu said, “We hope this local auctioning will spell the end for illegal diamond dealing as trade will be done securely and legally. This occasion gives me hope that soon, all of Lesotho’s diamonds will be sold in-country and benefit it economically.”

He also said Lesotho should move towards ensuring that at least 51 percent of shareholding in the diamond mines is held locally while investors would hold the remaining 49 percent.

Source: southerntimesafrica