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Weekly Digest: Lucara’s 472ct diamond, a Kashmir sapphire find and De Beers’ small-scale mining plan


In our weekly summary of the biggest news from the international diamond and diamond jewellery industries, Lucara discovers its third biggest diamond from the Karowe Mine, Bonhams reveals a near-13ct Kashmir sapphire, Chow Thai Fook enjoys sales rise and De Beers spotlights Cycle 3 and new schemes.

Lucara recovers 472 carat diamond

Lucara Diamond Corp. has announced the recovery of a “top light brown” 472 carat diamond, the third largest diamond from its 100%-owned Karowe Diamond Mine in Botswana.

“In 2018, mining at Karowe is focused in the high value south lobe, which consistently delivers large, high quality diamonds in excess of 10.8 carats,” Eira Thomas, Lucara’s CEO, said in a statement.  

Lucara has announced the recovery of a 472ct diamond. Image Credit: Lucara Diamond Corp. 

He added: “The 472 carat is the third largest diamond ever recovered from the mine and will be sold alongside other exceptional stones recovered since the beginning of the year as part of the first exceptional stone tender later in 2018.”

Related News: Rough diamond market showing signs of recovery

Kashmir sapphire leads Bonhams jewellery sale in Hong Kong

An unheated 12.92 carat Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring, estimated to fetch between US$120,000 – 510,000, leads Bonhams’ upcoming Rare Jewels and Jadeite sale in Hong Kong on May 27.

Bonhams Asia director of jewellery, Graeme Thompson, assessed the sapphire and believed it to be of Kashmir origin. The gemstone was then sent by Bonhams to Switzerland for scientific testing where it was confirmed as an extremely rare Kashmir sapphire.

The 12.92ct Kashmir sapphire, which sat ‘undiscovered’ in a client’s bank vault, will now be put up for auction. Image Credit: Bonhams.

"Kashmir sapphires are the rarest of gemstones and collectors are prepared to pay princely sums for top-quality specimens," Thompson said.

Related News: CARAT+ unveils speaker and seminar line-up for 2018 edition

"Sapphires were first discovered in Kashmir around 1880 but most Kashmir mines rapidly depleted soon after. Termed as 'blue velvet' due to the superiority of their superb cornflower blue hue, most Kashmir sapphires that appear on the market today were discovered more than 100 years ago,” he added.

Related News: Ethical jewellery conversation to continue at CARAT+ 2018

Chow Tai Fook sees jump in quarterly sales

Hong Kong-based jewellery retailer Chow Tai Fook reported a big rise in sales in the fourth fiscal quarter ending on March 31, driven by better consumer sentiment and increased tourism.

Total retail sales jumped 13% year-on-year in mainland China and rose 11% year-on-year in Hong Kong and Macau, the retailer said in a statement.

Same-store sales — at branches open for two years — increased 7% year-on-year on the mainland and jumped 17% year-on-year in Hong Kong and Macau.

Related News: Actress and model Elizabeth Hurley named the face of CARAT+ 2018

De Beers rough diamond sales fall in Cycle 3

De Beers’ rough diamond sales fell year-on-year to $520 million in its third sales cycle of 2018, compared to $586 million in the third cycle of 2017.

Sales in Cycle 2 of 2018 were $563 million. 

De Beers’ rough diamond sales fell year-on-year in Cycle 3. Image Credit: De Beers Group. 

Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said: "While the second quarter of the year is traditionally a seasonally slower period, we continued to see good rough diamond demand in the third sales cycle of 2018 as diamond businesses have focused on restocking following healthy consumer demand for diamond jewellery in the U.S. and China."

Related News: HRD Antwerp on why lab services have ramped-up in 2018

De Beers creates plan to support small-scale diamond mining

De Beers Group is preparing to pilot a programme called GemFair to create a secure and transparent route to market for ethically-sourced artisanal and small-scale mined (ASM) diamonds, the miner said.

GemFair will use dedicated technology to record ASM production at mine sites that meet demonstrable ethical standards, with the aim of purchasing rough diamonds from approved locations while helping improve working conditions and livelihoods for those working in the sector.

Related News: IGI says undisclosed lab-grown diamonds now “very limited”

GemFair is partnering with the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) for the pilot, an NGO that has been leading efforts to formalise the diamond ASM sector in several parts of Africa. 

Miners that wish to participate in the GemFair pilot must be certified by the DDI as meeting their standards, as well as additional standards specific to the GemFair business model.

Related News: CARAT+ welcomes GIA GemFest to 2018 edition

Words by David Brough


CARAT+ is The World’s Premier Diamond Event, covering the full spectrum of the diamond and diamond jewellery trades. The show specialises in four sectors: loose diamonds, branded diamond jewellery, non-branded diamond jewellery and services for the diamond jewellery industry.

Taking place in Hall 1 and Hall 4 of the Antwerp Expo on 6, 7 and 8 May, entry to the show is restricted exclusively to industry professionals, including diamond and jewellery wholesalers and manufacturers from around the world, and jewellery retailers from across Europe and the wider world. 

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