luxury

Louis Vuitton just bought the world's second-biggest diamond

Updated 17th January 2020
Sewelo diamond (Photo credit: Louis Vuitton) (CNW Group/Lucara Diamond Corp.)
Credit: Louis Vuitton/Lucara Diamond Corp.
Louis Vuitton just bought the world's second-biggest diamond
Written by Jessie Yeung, CNN
Louis Vuitton has just bought the world's second-largest diamond, another sign of the French brand's ambitions in the luxury jewelry market.
The 1,758-carat rough diamond, which was recovered by Lucara Diamond Corp in Botswana last April, is dark in color and about the size of your palm. The mining company named it "Sewel?," meaning "rare find" in the southern African Tswana language.
Lucara and the HB company, a Belgian diamond manufacturer, have now "entered into a collaboration" with Louis Vuitton to polish and manufacture a number of smaller jewels from the Sewel? diamond, according to a press release published Wednesday.
The diamond pictured shortly after its discovery last April.
The diamond pictured shortly after its discovery last April. Credit: Lucara Diamond Corp
"The purpose of this unprecedented collaboration between a miner, a cutting-edge manufacturer and a large luxury brand will be the planning, cutting and polishing of a collection of diamonds from Sewel?," said the press release, adding that the stone's "full potential" will only be revealed after it has been polished.
The release didn't disclose the value of the agreement, though it revealed that Lucara would receive an up-front payment and keep a 50% stake in the diamonds produced from the uncut stone. A further 5% of the resulting sales will be invested back into Lucara's community initiatives in Botswana, the company said.
"We are delighted to be partnering with Louis Vuitton, the famous luxury house, to transform the historic, 1,758-carat Sewel?, Botswana's largest diamond, into a collection of fine jewelery that will commemorate this extraordinary discovery and contribute direct benefits to our local communities of interest in Botswana," said Lucara CEO Eira Thomas in a press statement.
The Lesedi La Rona diamond, discovered in the same Botswana mine, sold for $53 million in 2017.
The Lesedi La Rona diamond, discovered in the same Botswana mine, sold for $53 million in 2017. Credit: Lucara Diamond Corp.
Louis Vuitton's purchase is just the latest move its parent company, LVMH, has taken into the luxury jewelry market. The conglomerate also owns Italian jewelry brand Bulgari and watchmakers TAG Heuer and Hublot, and in November, it acquired the iconic New York jeweler Tiffany & Co. for more than $16 billion.
When the Sewel? diamond was discovered last year, it took the title of second-largest in history, ousting the previous holder of the title -- a 1,111-carat diamond, called Lesedi La Rona, that was unearthed rom the same mine in Botswana.
The only larger diamond ever unearthed was the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, discovered in South Africa in 1905. The Cullinan was eventually cut into smaller stones, some of which now form part of British royal family's crown jewels.
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The final value of the Sewel? diamond will be dictated by several factors -- not just the size, but also the color, clarity and how it can be cut.
Although Lucara and Louis Vuitton are yet to put a price on the stone, it could be in the tens of millions of dollars, if previous sales are anything to go by. The Lesedi La Rona sold for $53 million to luxury jeweler Graff Diamonds in 2017.
This article has been updated to reflect LVMH's acquisition of Tiffany & Co. as being worth more than $16 billion.
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