July 24, 2021

The eternal race for the biggest diamonds in the world

By presenting an exceptional brut for the second time in less than a year, Louis Vuitton demonstrates the seriousness of its ambitions in fine jewelry.

The Sethunya, an exceptional rough diamond of 549 carats, discovered in Botswana.

© Philippe Lacombe

By Hervé Dewintre

To assert its authority in the very closed circle of fine jewelry, nothing marks the spirits as much as the acquisition of an exceptional stone, raw or cut. Laurence Graff and Harry Winston, to name but a few, have greatly strengthened their glory thanks to these spectacular acquisitions which are both symbols and trophies. Louis Vuitton is also approaching this exercise without giving up its singularity.

At the start of the year, the French luxury house – present in the fine jewelry sector since 2001 – announced the historic discovery of Sewelô: a rough diamond weighing 1,758 carats. A considerable weight that only the Cullinan and the Sergio (a Brazilian black diamond) surpass to this day. To give an overview of the sums involved, remember that the Cullinan, an extravagant crude of 3,106 carats (621.2 g) discovered in 1905 in South Africa, had been sent by King Edward VII to the Asscher brothers in Amsterdam for be pruned. The rough had given rise to 105 polished diamonds, some of which enriched the collection of British crown jewels. One of these diamonds cut from the Cullinan – a 56.15 carat stone in the shape of a heart – was sold by Christie’s on February 14, 2011 for $ 10.9 million.

Louis Vuitton’s announcement last January of the discovery of Sewelô is the result of a partnership with two ambitious players in the diamond industry: on the one hand the Canadian Lucara, founded in 2009 by the mining billionaire Lukas Lundin – this company is one of the seven mining groups that founded the Natural Diamond Council which highlights the solidity of the ecological and social sectors of the sector -, and of elsewhere, the company HB Antwerp who wants to bring the diamond cutting process back to Antwerp in its entirety using the latest cutting edge techniques in the field of laser technology, blockchain and artificial intelligence. This triumvirate renews the feat for the second time this year by presenting a rough 549 carats discovered in February 2020 in Botswana in the Karowe mine (owned by Lucara) thanks to a high-tech X-ray recovery process developed by the company. Canadian. This process allows the largest carbon-rich specimens to be identified and extracted before they are crushed.

Manifesto of power

This rough is promising, both in terms of purity and color. Named Sethunya (“flower” in Tswanese) in homage to Louis Vuitton’s Monogram, it comes from the south lobe of the mine where the Lesedi La Rona had been spotted. Discovered in 2015, this 1,109-carat rough – the second largest colorless diamond in the world – was purchased from Lucara in 2017 for the sum of $ 53 million by the jeweler Graff, who had extracted the largest emerald-cut diamond to cut from it. square in the world: a diamond of 302.37 carats, color D.

In this race for the record, the announcement of Louis Vuitton is therefore a manifesto of power all the more remarkable because it is based on innovation (customers will be invited to become an actor in each step of the creative process) and on ethics (the Botswanan people, promise Lucara and Louis Vuitton, will also be associated with the collaboration and profits generated by diamonds). The suspense will stretch over several years: at least eighteen months to map the stone in order to first determine the most relevant cuts among the labyrinths of possible imperfections, then to shape, facet and polish the gems from the gross according to customers’ wishes. A long time commensurate with the Stone Age (one or two billion years) and the strength of an ambition.