A remarkable oval-shaped blue diamond weighing over 20 carats, was this Wednesday unveiled to the world by Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) in Gaborone – the biggest blue diamond discovery ever made in Botswana.
The Botswana sourced, natural diamond’s striking colour has been graded as a Type IIb ‘Fancy Deep Blue’. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), has graded the diamond as an Oval Brilliant Cut, VVS2 clarity making it one of the highest polished colour classifications attainable for any blue diamond and at 20.46 carats, it sits in the very top bracket of all-time historical blue diamond finds.
The diamond was discovered at Botswana’s Orapa mine as a 41.11 carat rough stone. Its unique and vibrant blue colour is created by the molecular inclusion of the rare mineral boron which between 1-3 billion years ago was present in the rocks of ancient oceans during violent diamond forming volcanic activity.
“From the first moment we saw the diamond, it was clear we had something very special. Everyone who has viewed the 20 carat polished diamond has marvelled at its unique colouration which many see as unlike any blue stone they have seen before. It is incredibly unusual for a stone of this colour and nature to have come from Botswana – a once-in-lifetime find, which is about as rare as a star in the Milky Way,” says Marcus ter Haar, MD of Okavango Diamond Company.
“It is little surprise blue diamonds are so sought after around the world as only a very small percentage of the world’s diamonds are classified as fancy colour and, of those, only a select few can be classified as being Fancy Blue.
“At ODC, we have access to 15% of Debswana’s run-of-mine production and feel extremely fortunate to be involved in such a singular find.
“Only a handful of similar blue stones have come to market during the last decade, of which the Okavango Blue rightfully takes its place as one of the most significant,” said ter Haar.
Diamonds are a key natural resource for Botswana, which is a global leader of ethically and responsibly sourced diamonds. Diamonds account for approximately half of government revenue and contribute to the economic growth and wellbeing of the entire country through employment creation, the funding of schools and hospitals and other critical infrastructure.
Botswana is fast being transformed into a leading global natural diamond trading and manufacturing centre, with strong emphasis placed on transparency, good governance and the creation of broad-based business opportunities for the people of Botswana.
Lipalesa Makepe, ODC’s Chief Financial Officer says ethical sourcing is becoming more crucial with ethical consumerism on the rise.
“We are conscious of how important ethically-sourced natural diamonds are to the public and are therefore fortunate that our diamond resources are managed responsibly in a manner that puts the people of Botswana first. Consumers can purchase Botswana diamonds with a sense of pride knowing that these diamonds are improving the lives of the people of Botswana,” she says.
The polished stone is named ‘The Okavango Blue’ in recognition of Botswana’s own environmental natural treasure and World Heritage site the Okavango Delta. It is further a symbol of Okavango Diamond Company, the diamond sales and marketing arm of the Botswana government.
The iconic Okavango Blue will be showcased over the coming months to promote Botswana as a leading global producer of natural ethical diamonds with an anticipated sale toward the end of the year.
*The Gemological Institute of America has graded the stone as Oval Brilliant Cut, 20.46 carats, Fancy Deep Blue colour, VVS2 clarity.
Meantime, HE Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed ‘the greatest honour’ of unveiling ‘the queen of gems;
“…I had the greatest honour of officially unveiling the queen of gems, ‘The Okavango Blue’ which is the rarest and most unique diamond ever discovered in Botswana.
It was a privilege to witness a record-breaking milestone as one of the world’s largest rough diamond producers. A remarkably rare, exceptionally cut and polished, fancy deep blue 20 carat diamond named #TheOkavangoBlue was discovered at 41 carats as a rough diamond from Orapa mine, is the first of its kind to be found in Botswana.
Finding a diamond of this size, shape and most significantly this colour, is virtually unheard of in Botswana. I am informed that blue diamonds are some of the rarest in the world. In fact, less than 0.02 percent of mined diamonds in the world are blue.
I am gratified to note that the purity of our diamonds represents peace; the abundance of our diamonds represents prosperity; and the allure of our diamonds represents our beauty as a nation and as a people.
Our diamonds have not only given us an enviable brand; but they have also significantly contributed to the growth of our economy. They have immensely contributed to the creation of jobs, provision of social services like health, education and the construction of hospitals, roads as well as energy and the water infrastructure, among others.
As you know, the mineral sector remains a principal source of revenue for the growth of our economy. In this regard, my government will continue to grow the economy through mineral beneficiation to maximise the value addition from minerals and to promote the development of the private sector to drive beneficiation.
The Okavango Blue symbolises the nation’s pride in the “Diamonds for Development” story as we continue to share wealth and opportunities for the benefit of all the people of Botswana. I look forward to following the journey of our queen of gems, “The Okavango Blue.” May she change the lives of those who are lucky to come across her, and bring great fortune to our country!”
Source: BWGovernment Facebook page
Imagery courtesy of BWgovernment (Facebook)