The recovery of greater than 100 carat diamonds in continuing in 2018
Improved production of large diamonds at the high-value Letšeng mine in Lesotho drove an increase in Gem Diamonds’ sales in 2017.
Sales jumped 12% to $206.8 million for the year, the miner said Friday. While the overall sales volume slipped 2% to 107,152 carats, higher recoveries of large diamonds fueled a 14% rise in the average price to $1,930 per carat.
The company, which owns a 70% stake in Letšeng, unearthed eight diamonds above 100 carats in 2017, of which the largest was 202.16-carats, compared with five in 2016. Recoveries of diamonds weighing more than 20 carats leapt to 214 from 179.
In addition, Gem Diamonds saw strong demand for large stones in the fourth quarter, pushing sales up by 84% to $69.8 million, compared to $38 million the company reported a year ago. The average price grew 54% to $2,217 per carat, according to Rapaport calculations.
“The market for Letšeng’s high-quality diamonds remained robust over the [quarter],” said Gem Diamonds CEO Clifford Elphick.
During the fourth quarter, the company sold a 58.38-carat white diamond for $3.6 million, or $61,905 per carat — the highest per-carat price it achieved for a stone of that color all year. It also sold a 7.87-carat pink diamond for $1.6 milllion, or $202,222 per carat, the second-highest price per carat ever achieved for a Letšeng rough diamond, the miner noted.
“It is also encouraging to see that the improvement in the recovery of greater-than-100-carat diamonds is continuing into 2018, with five greater-than-100-carat diamonds recovered in the first month of 2018,” Elphick added. “This is largely attributable to the ongoing technical improvements made at the Letšeng mine.”
One of those recent discoveries was a 910-carat stone the company found in January, which, it claimed, was the fifth-largest rough stone found in history.