Russian state-controlled diamond giant Alrosa will be putting one of the biggest-ever gem-quality stones it has mined in the century up for auction, as the industry’s recovery builds momentum.
The 242-carat crystal-clear diamond, almost the size of a small egg, will be viewable at the company’s sales office in Dubai from March 14 to 21, with the auction result announced on March 22. The starting price of the diamond is fixed a little above $2 million.
The impact of the pandemic was visible in the diamond sector, as it led the industry to an almost standstill condition in the first half of 2020 and the prices of the gem also plunged. But the sector proved more resilient and rebounded strongly toward year-end.
In the past decade, Alrosa auctioned several diamonds larger than 200 carats of comparable quality, as they are extremely scarce and the company often preferred cutting and polishing rare finds in-house. “Rough diamonds, which potentially allow for cutting a polished diamond larger than 100 carats, are extremely rare in nature. Even less often are such gems tendered,” says Alrosa’s chief of sales Evgeny Agureev.
The auction is extremely important for the entire sector as a year ago it faced the toughest call in its history. The company has decided to sell the diamond to mark its 100th international auction, Mr. Agureev added.
The diamond, which is the biggest gem-quality that Alrosa has mined since 2000, was discovered at the Nurbinskaya deposit in Russia’s the Far East more than a decade ago. The company also plans to showcase two gems of 190.7 carats and 136.2 carats, as well as other smaller stones at the auction.
Alrosa last offered a rough diamond of such a size was at open auction five years ago. Russian law states that the miner must first offer its rough diamonds larger than 50 carats to the Gokhran state repository.
The main item is still dominated by the largest diamonds found in Africa, namely the 3,106-carat Cullinan, found near Pretoria in South Africa in 1905. There have also been some big finds more recently, including a 1,109-carat stone unearthed in Botswana in 2015 and a 910-carat diamond mined by Gem Diamonds in the mountainous African kingdom of Lesotho three years ago.