London: The world´s largest uncut diamond failed to sell at auction in London on Wednesday after the bids fell short of the reserve price.
The Lesedi La Rona, a 1,109-carat, tennis ball-sized gem found in Botswana, had been predicted to sell for over $70 million.
But the Sotheby´s auctioneer failed to persuade bidders to go above $61 million for the jewel, which was discovered in 2015 by the Lucara Diamond Corp.
“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,” Sotheby´s said in a later statement.
Sotheby´s chairman of jewellery David Bennett had called the diamond “the find of a lifetime.”
“No rough even remotely of this scale has ever been offered before at public auction,” Bennett said ahead of the auction.
Precious stones have been fetching ever-higher prices at auction lately, as the world´s ultra-rich invest in hard assets as a safeguard against stock market volatility.
Reacting to the failed sale, Tobias Kormind of 77 Diamonds online retailer said the bullish gem market “may have reached a tipping point and demand for large rare stones might just be saturated”.
Alternatively, he said, “the market instability with Brexit may have just caused this to be a case of bad luck or bad timing.”
Lesedi La Rona means “our light” in Botswana´s Tswana language. It could be cut into smaller gems for jewellery or left whole in a private collection.
On the same day as the stone was discovered, another 830-carat diamond was found in Botswana, the third-largest in the world, William Lamb, Lucara´s president and chief executive, told AFP.
The record for the biggest diamond in the world is still held by the “Cullinan Diamond”, a legendary gem found in South Africa in 1905 boasting 3,016.75 carats.
The Cullinan Diamond was cut into nine diamonds for the British crown jewels.
They include the Cullinan I in the Queen´s Sceptre and the Cullinan II, which is lodged in the crown that the British monarch wears to the opening of parliament.
A blue diamond from the same South African mine sold for over £25 million in New York this month.