rough diamond

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The Letseng mine in the small Kingdom of Lesotho, South Africa has just uncovered another massive diamond rough: a 198-carat stone, roughly the size of a large letseng 198 caratstrawberry.

A diamond over 100 carats is rare enough – with only about 10 to 15 found each year worldwide – but a rough that is nearly 200 carats is an exceedingly rare find. A stone of this size is expected to yield a polished diamond around 100 carats, or half the weight of the rough it originated from.

Even though the stone’s size is impressive, it is not even close to being the largest ever uncovered from the Letseng mine. In fact, the Letseng mine is well-known for churning out large, quality rough over the years, and has the highest price per carat production of all the mines in the world. Some of the largest include the Letseng mineLesotho Promise, the 15th largest diamond in the world at 603 carats; the Letseng Legacy at 493 carats, and the Leseli La Letseng at 478 carats which are 18th and 20th largest respectively.

What makes this rough even more valuable is its’ designation of Type IIa, which constitutes less than 2% of all natural diamonds. Type IIa diamonds have no measurable nitrogen impurities, making them chemically pure. This not only gives them exceptional optical transparency, but also a high likelihood of achieving a colorless (D-E-F) grade and a high clarity grade. Officials from Gem Diamonds Ltd, which own the majority stake in the Letseng mine, confirmed this after inspection of the stone noting it as “an exceptional white, high-quality diamond that displays no fluorescence”.

Martin Potts, a London-based mining analyst has estimated the 198 carat stone to fetch somewhere between $12 to $15 million.

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KidArkansas Crater of Diamonds State park has been a great place to find diamonds. Just this year alone the diamonds found at the park are about 327. In 2012 a total of 530 diamonds were found, 131 of them brown and 100 of them yellow. The lucky one this time to find the 27th largest diamond ever found in the park would go to 12 year old Michael Dettlaff, of Apex, N.C. He was searching for less than 10 minutes when he saw something shinier than a rock and picked it up. It had been raining that morning and the family almost didn’t go. The rain helps to sink the dirt down and allow the stone to rise to the surface more.  He named it “God’s Glory Diamond.” The gem is honey brown and the size of a jelly bean, it has a beautiful metallic luster and interesting notches says park interpreter Waymon Cox.

Another  lucky man is named Steve Vehige, him and his 17 year old son, had come to the site four times before being rewarded with such a find. Both of them spent 3 days digging a 37 and half acre search area.  He stumbled upon the brown diamond while mumbling aloud to another park visitor about what a rough diamond would look like. Lo and behold he was holding one in his hand at the same moment he was inquiring about it. He has called his discovery the “Flint Hill Special” in respect to his hometown.

A park interpreter, Margi Jenks, said that rain increases your chances of surface finds and that year in July the rainfall in the park reached 10 inches. “Diamonds … stay put when it rains and the dirt surrounding and covering the diamonds washes away. I knew from past experience that Saturday’s sunny skies would probably result in some nice diamond finds,” she said.

FindOther semi-precious stones and minerals found in the park are amethyst, peridot, garnet, jasper, agate, berite, calcite, and quartz. Around 40 different rocks and minerals are found in the Arkansas Crater making it a great treasure hunt for those who visit. A total of 75, 000 diamonds have been unearthed from the site since the first was found back in 1906. The largest diamond to be discovered in the US was at the Arkansas Park its name is Uncle Sam, a white diamond with pink cast weighing at 40 carats.

The Crater of Diamonds in Arkansas is the world’s only diamond producing site that is open to the public. An average of two diamonds are found per day in the park. Whatever kind of gem the visitor finds it gets to keep and the park provides free identification and registration.

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