Lucara Diamond Corp. has sold Botswana’s largest diamond to Louis Vuitton in a rare move that will see the fashion house partner with an Antwerp manufacturer to polish the stone.
The mining company will receive an up-front payment for the 1,758-carat Sewelô rough and retain a 50% interest in the final polished, it said in a statement Wednesday. While the diamond is of variable quality, and appears black, recent analysis has confirmed it includes “domains of higher-quality white gem,” Lucara added.
“Lucara believes that the full potential of this special stone will only be revealed once polished,” the statement continued. “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 Sewelô.”
The selling price was in the “millions,” The New York Times quoted Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke as saying.
The polishing will take place via a partnership with Belgium’s HB Company. Louis Vuitton and HB have together bought 50% of the rough, while Lucara owns the remainder and will continue to do so up until the polished stage.
The resulting jewelry, which Louis Vuitton will make, will commemorate the “extraordinary discovery” and benefit the people of Botswana, said Lucara CEO Eira Thomas. As part of the deal, 5% of the retail sales proceeds will go toward Lucara’s community-based initiatives in the African country.
The move comes amid Louis Vuitton's increased focused on jewelry, with the French brand hiring two former Tiffany & Co. executives — designer Francesca Amfitheatrof and marketing expert Catherine Lacaze — in the past two years. Its parent company, LVMH, which also owns Bulgari, is in the process of acquiring Tiffany for $16.2 million.
Lucara discovered the rough at its Karowe mine in April 2019, declaring it to be the largest diamond in Botswana’s history, surpassing the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona it extracted at the same deposit in 2015. The company called the stone Sewelô, meaning “rare find” in the local Setswana language, following a public naming contest.
Image: The Sewelô diamond. (Louis Vuitton)