Image: HB Antwerp
Will another record diamond be coming to Antwerp soon? Diamond company HB Antwerp has signed a contract with producer Lucara. The Canadian mining company will send all large stones directly to Antwerp. By means of a special technique, the company can see in advance how many diamonds can be extracted from the stones.
In 2016, the Lesedi La Rona shone at the MAS. At 1,109 carats, it was the largest rough diamond in the world, the size of a tennis ball. At the time, the exceptional stone was given a retail value of some 60 million euros, more than the cost of building the MAS.
The stone, eventually sold for 45 million euros and since then cut into 23 diamonds, came from the Karowe mine in Botswana. The mining company involved, Canada’s Lucara, has now made a deal with diamond company HB Antwerp that from now on all large stones will come directly to Antwerp.
“These are all diamonds larger than 10.8 carats (2.16 grams),” says HB-Antwerp spokesperson Margaux Donckier. “We have invested heavily in technology over the last few months to scan, analyze, measure and cut these large stones. All stones will be cut in the new production facility at the Beurs voor Diamanthandel in the heart of Antwerp’s diamond district.”
What’s so special about the deal? “Normally, as a trader, you buy rough stones from the producer fairly speculatively and you hope to get the diamonds out of them. With our technology, we can see in advance exactly how many diamonds we can produce out of it. We fine-tune the price and keep a fee for our costs. That way there is much more transparency in the chain. It delivers more in the end, including for the government in the country of origin.”
According to Donckier, their technology leads to good results. “From a stone that at first glance appears to contain inaccuracies, we can regularly cut extremely clear or pure diamonds anyway.”
With this deal, Antwerp seems assured of quality, large diamonds. “This is good news,” believes Karen Rentmeesters of diamond umbrella AWDC. “The Karowe mine is perhaps the largest producer of large diamonds, with a lot of exceptionally large and pure diamonds, with few uncertainties. It is pioneering the latest scanning technology, which allows large stones to be spotted earlier. That reduces breaking them down.”
“Something like that is paying off. Every week we do see a large diamond come to us of more than 100 carats. The life of the mine was recently extended by another 25 years.”
Antwerp has seen a lot of cutting activity leave in recent decades for low-wage countries like India. For the largest and most expensive stones Antwerp remains competitive.