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Lesedi La Rona Diamond Fails to Sell at Sotheby’s London Evening Auction

© DONALD BOWERS/GETTY IMAGES FOR SOTHEBY'S

© DONALD BOWERS/GETTY IMAGES FOR SOTHEBY’S

Just in: the Lesedi La Rona, which was set to be auctioned off at Sotheby’s London evening sale today, has failed to find a buyer. This is quite the surprising result, considering the enormous amount of hype this diamond received from the press and its worldwide tour of Sotheby’s locations in the months preceding the auction. David Bennett, jewelry division chairman at Sotheby’s, has called this diamond “the find of a lifetime.”

Sotheby’s promoted the sale on its editorial platform with breathless descriptions of the gem, such as this one:

Only time will reveal the gems the Lesedi La Rona will yield. For the moment, all we know is that its sale will be a milestone in the history of diamonds and auction house sales, if only because this once-in-a-lifetime rarity will be on centre stage.

That is, if there is a sale.

The Lesedi La Rona, which translates to “our light” in Tswana, is the largest rough diamond auctioned in 100 years. Discovered in the Lucara Diamond Corporation’s Karowe mine in Botswana this past November, it is 1,109 carats and approximately the size of a tennis ball. Experts have judged that the Lesedi La Rona may unseat the Great Star of Africa as the largest D color diamond in the world when cut and polished.

Sotheby’s broke the news with this emailed statement:

“Though widely admired in the months preceding this evening’s auction, and despite having seen bidding in the salesroom, the Lesedi la Rona failed to reach its reserve price and consequently did not find a buyer tonight.

Every aspect of tonight’s auction was unprecedented: no one alive today has ever seen a gem-quality rough diamond of this incredible scale; no rough diamond of importance has ever before been offered before at public auction; and no diamond – polished or rough – has ever been estimated at this price level. It has been a privilege to present the Lesedi la Rona around the world this spring, and the unique opportunity excited collectors throughout this process.”

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