Giant diamond fails to sell at auction, trade interested

Wed Jun 29, 2016 7:09pm EDT
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By Nicole Mordant

(Reuters) - The biggest uncut diamond to be discovered in over a century failed to sell at a Sotheby's auction on Wednesday, but the chief executive of Lucara Diamond Corp, the company that found the gem, said there was interest from buyers in the diamond trade.

Bids for the 1,109-carat, tennis ball-sized stone topped out at $61 million - an amount that fell short of the undisclosed minimum reserve price.

Sotheby's had estimated that the diamond, found last November at Lucara's mine in Botswana, would sell for more than $70 million.

"The fact that the stone didn't sell, yes, it is disappointing but it doesn't change anything for Lucara as a company," Lucara CEO William Lamb said in a telephone interview from London.

"There is definitely demand for the stone. It is just demand from the people who we would normally sell the stone to," he said.

Shares in Vancouver-based Lucara ended down 14.5 percent at C$3.35 on the Toronto Stock Exchange after news of the failed sale.

"The result is a disappointing one, and potentially calls into question the sale method chosen," BMO analyst Edward Sterck said in a note to clients.

The public auction route is unusual for large, rare diamonds, which are usually offered for sale to small groups of sophisticated diamond dealers.   Continued...

A model shows off The 1109-Carat "Lesedi La Rona", rough diamond during a media event at Sotheby's in London Britain June 14, 2016. The largest gem-quality rough diamond discovered in more than 100 years goes up for auction later this month. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez