Revenue at Gem Diamonds rose in the first half of the year as higher recoveries of large stones boosted the average selling price.

Sales jumped 43% to $169.2 million by value and, by volume, climbed 8% to 61,696 carats, the miner reported Friday. Rough diamonds from the company’s Letšeng mine in Lesotho achieved an average of $2,742 per carat, compared to $2,061 per carat in the same period a year ago.

While total Letšeng production was flat at 61,596 carats, the asset yielded a record 10 rough diamonds larger than 100 carats in the first six months of the year. These included the 910-carat Lesotho Legend — the largest find to date for Gem Diamonds — which sold for $40 million in March. Some 25 stones fetched more than $1 million each during the period.

We are delighted to see the continuation in the recoveries of large diamonds during the period,” Gem Diamonds CEO Clifford Elphick said last week. “This trend continued into [the third quarter] with the 11th diamond greater than 100 carats recovered in July, now equaling the highest number of these recoveries in a single year. Greatly improved recoveries combined with the discovery and subsequent sale of the Lesotho Legend has generated a strong financial performance for the first half.

The highest price per carat the company achieved for a diamond during the first half was $62,433 for a 2.26-carat pink diamond.

Gem Diamonds also owns the Ghaghoo mine in Botswana, which it is in the process of selling.

About Gem Diamonds

Gem Diamonds is a leading producer of high-value diamonds. The Group, which has its head office in the United Kingdom and sales, marketing and manufacturing capabilities in Antwerp, owns the Letšeng mine in Lesotho and the Ghaghoo mine in Botswana.

The Letšeng mine is renowned for the regular production of large, top colour, exceptional white diamonds, making it the highest average dollar per carat kimberlite diamond mine in the world. Since Gem Diamonds acquired the mine in 2006, Letšeng has produced over 60 +100 carat, predominantly high value, white diamonds. Amongst these diamonds recovered are the iconic 603 carat Lesotho Promise, the 550 carat Letšeng Star and the 493 carat Letšeng Legacy

In 2015, Letšeng produced the 357 carat Letšeng Dynasty and the 314 carat Letšeng Destiny. In addition Letšeng has produced high quality pink and blue diamonds, with a rare blue diamond achieving a sales price of US$603 047 per carat in 2013 and an exceptional pink diamond achieving $187 700 per carat in 2016.

The Ghaghoo mine, which produces diamonds of a commercial quality, is currently on care and maintenance.

Gem Diamonds has an organic growth strategy based on enhancing the operational efficiencies of the Letšeng mine and re-commencing production at Ghaghoo when the market for this category of diamonds improves. Its primary focus is to achieve operational excellence and enhance value through a continued cost reduction discipline and extracting maximum diamond value through technological initiatives. Additional value is generated through the Group’s sales, marketing and manufacturing capabilities based in Antwerp. Financial, technical and administrative services are supported by its South African subsidiary.