Whether you're looking online or at a store, you're bound to find diamonds of all shapes and sizes, but what about out in the wild? Gem deposits all over the world have been uncovering rough stones for centuries, and production has been going strong ever since, but the thing is, much of what is discovered tends to weigh in at less than a carat. Rarer are the specimens that positively dwarf the average size. In light of the recent discovery of the largest diamond in North America, here are some of the greatest finds that have gemologists and jewelers gobsmacked.
North America's newest stunner
First things first: the most recent stunner of a find is a massive 552 carat yellow diamond unearthed in October of 2018 at the Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada's Northwest Territories, roughly 215 km south of the arctic circle. Amazingly, the dazzling, chicken egg-sized piece of yellow diamond weighs close to three times more than the previous record-holder, the 187 carat Foxfire diamond, which was found in the Diavik Diamond Mine in 2015. Plans for the as-yet unnamed yellow diamond have yet to be revealed, but it will eventually be cut and polished for future sale. It could be noted, however, that the creamy and phosphorescent Foxfire was later fashioned into a pair of pear-shaped earrings and sold for $1.5 million.
The majestic Cullinan diamond
While a record was just smashed in North America, the Cullinan diamond, discovered at the turn of the 20th century, still reigns as the largest gem-quality diamond ever. The stone was found in the town of Cullinan, South Africa on January 26, 1905—both the gem and town were named after the mine chairman, Thomas Cullinan. When first plucked from the mine, it weighed a gargantuan 3,106.75 carats. It was originally believed to be crystal and worthless, but was quickly re-evaluated due to its blue-white beauty and clarity.
The Cullinan was later broken down, principally, into nine gems. Cullinan I, also known as the Great Star of Africa, weighs 530.4 carats, and is the largest clear cut diamond in the world; it's mounted on the head of the Sovereign's Sceptre and sits among the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. Also part of the collection is the Cullinan II, or Second Star of Africa, which weighs 317.4 carats and rests within the Imperial State Crown. The remaining seven segments, cumulatively weighing 208.29 carats and set within various brooches and rings, are privately owned by Queen Elizabeth II; she also possesses the rough fragments of the Cullinan.
Lesedi La Rona: the largest uncut diamond until recently
Since the Cullinan was eventually shaped down from over 3000 carats into a series of stunning pieces, the largest piece of uncut diamond was the Lesedi La Rona, an awe-inspiring colourless diamond that sat at a still hefty 1,109 carats. It's a more modern discovery, having been plucked from the Karowe Mine in Botswana on November 16, 2015. While initially named the Karowe AK6, after the mine, a public competition was held to rename the gem. Lesedi La Rona translates to "Our Light" in the Tswana language, a fitting title for the beaming piece of raw, Botswana diamond. It was sold off in rough form in the fall of 2017 for $53 million USD to Graff Diamonds, who have recently cut two D-colour, flawless diamonds, of which one is a cushion-cut, 6.06ct and the other an oval-cut, 11.12ct. There are approximately 30 other newly cut diamonds from this piece of rough that will all feature the trademark “Lesedi La Rona” name with an inscription on each of the new diamonds.