The diamond firm Debswana has announced the discovery in Botswana of a 1,098-carat stone that it described as the third largest of its kind in the world.
The company showed the stone, which was found on 1 June, to the country’s president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, in the capital Gaborone.
“It is believed to be the third largest gem-quality find in the world,” said Debswana’s managing director, Lynette Armstrong.
The “rare and extraordinary stone … means so much in the context of diamonds and Botswana,” she said. “It brings hope to a nation that is struggling.”
It is also the biggest stone of gem quality to be discovered in the history of the company, a joint venture between the government and the global diamond giant De Beers.
The world’s biggest diamond was the 3,106-carat Cullinan, found in South Africa in 1905.
The second largest was the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona, discovered at Karowe in north-eastern Botswana in 2015.
Botswana is Africa’s leading diamond producer.
The country houses seven well-established mines including Jwaneng, the world’s richest in terms of value, Orapa, the world’s largest by area, along with Karowe and Letlhakane.
The Jwaneng mine is owned by Debswana Diamond Mining Company, a partnership between the Botswana government and De Beers.
Diamonds constitute about a quarter of Botswana’s GDP and account for more than half of its exports. De Beers controls sales of all rough diamonds mined by Debswana through its diamond sorting and selling facility — the largest in the world — in Botswana’s capital Gaborone.
Diamond mining started in Botswana in 1967 after gaining its independence from Britain, and in 2015 the world’s second-largest diamond — larger than a tennis ball and 1758 carats — was discovered in the Karowe Diamond Mine.
The diamond from the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle’s engagement ring is reported to have been sourced from Botswana.
About 24 million carats-weight of diamonds were reported to be produced in the country during 2018.