2018 was a remarkable year for diamonds, from an auction perspective, but even more so from a rough diamond discovery perspective.

We countdown the top 5 rough diamonds discovered and the top 5 diamonds sold at auction in 2018.

Rough Diamonds

5) Letseng’s record year

The 5thbiggest diamond of 2018 weighs in at 169cts and was discovered at Lesotho’s Letseng diamond mine. Gem Diamonds, owners of Letseng, recovered a record number of huge diamonds in 2018. Letseng is the highest diamond mine in the world, due to it’s elevation of 3,100m above sea level. Last year it coughed up 14 diamonds over 100ct in size.

Letseng 169ct diamond

Photo: Gem Diamonds

4) Botswana’s bounty, Part I

Botswana is well known as home to large diamonds, even more so after the discovery of the record-breaking 1109ct Lesedi la Rona in 2015. In 2018, Botswana lived up to expectations when Lucara Diamond Corporation announced the discovery of a 327ct gem-quality white diamond. In the first quarter of 2018, Lucara recovered 4 diamonds larger than 100cts in size. By the end of 2018, a total of 8 diamonds over 100cts had been found.

Lucara 327ct white diamond

Photo: Lucara Diamond Corp

3) Botswana’s bounty, Part II

Not content with white gem quality diamonds, Lucara unearted a 472ct diamond from its Karowe mine in April. This light brown diamond is of gem-quality and is the third largest diamond recoved from Karowe.

Lucara 472ct brown diamond

Photo: Lucara Diamond Corp

2) North America’s largest diamond

In October, North America’s largest diamond ever was discovered at the Diavik diamond mine. Located in Canada’s Northwest Territories, Diavik is owned by Dominion Diamond Mines and Rio Tinto. On its own, the discovery of a 552.74ct diamond is newsworthy. Making this discovery even more remarkable is the fact that the diamond is yellow in colour. Roughly the size of a chicken egg, the surface of the diamond displays remarkable geological textures, indicating a remarkable journey to the surface of the earth.

Diavik 552ct yellow diamond

Photo: Dominion Diamond Mines

1) The Letseng Legend

2018 got off to a flying start in January as a result of the discovery of the 910ct Lesotho Legend at Gem Diamonds Letseng diamond mine. Officially the 5thlargest diamond everfound, the double-golfball size piece of rough sold to Samir Gems for $40million. They’re yet to announce the diamond/s that have been cut and polished from the rough stone.


Letsent 910ct diamond

Photo: Gem Diamonds

Cut and polished diamond auctions

5) The “Ai”

Blue diamonds continued to thrill at auctions in 2018 and a magnificent 5ct step-cut blue diamond takes 5thspot on our list. Successfully sold by Sotheby’s in their October Hong Kong auction, the Ai diamond (“Ai” is the Chinese word for love) raised $13.8million on the auction block. Graded as a “fancy vivid blue” (the highest colour intensity) colour and VS2 clarity by the GIA, this blue diamond will certainly make it’s new owner happy.

The Ai Blue Diamond

Photo: Sotheby’s

4) Bulgari Blue

Another blue diamond clocks in as the 4thmost expensive diamond auctioned this year. Christie’s Magnificent Jewels December auction in New York saw the hammer fall at $18.3million for this rather spectacular blue diamond ring. The Bulgari-designed platinum ring was set with an 8.08ct cushion cut, fancy vivid blue, VS2 diamond and flanked by two white, trapezoid cut diamonds.

Blue Diamond Bulgari Ring

Photo: Christie’s

3) A show-stopping pendant

In third place we have another blue diamond, this time an 8.01ct fancy vivid blue and internally flawless pear-cut diamond. Set in a Moussaieff-designed pendant, this blue diamond sold for $20.5million at Christie’s Hong Kong auction in May.

Moussaief Blue Diamond pendant

Photo: Christie’s

2) A piece of history

Whilst not exclusively diamonds, the Sotheby’s auction of a natural pearl and diamond pendant caused a stir within the industry. Because it belonged to Marie Antoinette at one stage, the $36.2million price tag was a whopping 18 times more than the anticipated selling price.

Marie Antoinette Diamond Pearl Pendant

Photo: Sothebys

1) Passionate about pink

The top diamond of 2018 was not another a blue diamond, but instead a pink diamond; more precisely the Pink Legacy. Sold to Harry Winston at Christie’s November auction in Geneva, the spectacular 18.96ct fancy vivid pink diamond was renamed the Winston Pink after the hammer fell at $50.4million. At $2.65million per carat, it is the highest per carat price reached for any fancy vivid pink diamond sold at auction.

Winston Pink Diamond

Photo: Christie’s

So, there you have it; the top diamond discoveries and diamond sales for 2018. We’ll have to wait and see what beauties will be up for auction in 2019 – and we’ll certainly keep you posted!

In the meantime, if you’ve got your sights set on some of the best diamonds available in South Africa, contact us today. With over 1100 available diamonds, we’re sure to be able to help you out.