Focus on

rough diamonds

At 1,758 carats, the Sewelo is the second largest rough diamond ever discovered. It was purchased for an undisclosed amount by the French
fashion house Louis Vuitton. 



The second largest rough diamond ever discovered, the Sewelo, has been acquired by Louis Vuitton, the French fashion house and luxury retail company owned by the world’s largest luxury product brand, LVMH. At 1,758 carats, the 352-stone, which has diameter similar to that of a baseball, is still considerably smaller than the diamond that has held the record since it was discovered in 1905, the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond.

The price paid for the diamond, which was discovered in April 2019 at the Kurowe mine in Botswana, was not disclosed. But, as an indication, among the other stones discovered in recent years at the same mine are the 813-carat Constellation, which was discovered in 2015 and sold for $63 million, and the 1,111-carat Lesedi La Rona, which was discovered in 2016 and was sold in 2017 for $53 million.

The color and quality of the stone are difficult to gauge at first glance, since it is covered in a thick carbon layer. But Lucara reported that a wind was polished through the later and an internal analysis of the diamond was performed. According to a New York Times article, the stone was revealed to be “near gem quality,” with “domains of high-quality white gem.”

LVMH has not yet announced how the diamond will be cut, but it is reported that several options are being considered. They include a 904-carat cushion-cut diamond, an 891-carat oval-cut diamond or a collection of several stones of between 100 and 300 carats.


The Sewelo has become a poster child for the Kurowe mine, which has produced a remarkable number of very large stones in its short history, and for Botswana’s diamond mining sector in general. 

After being discovered, a competition was held in the southern African nation to name the rough diamond. Some 22,000 entries were received, and the winning one, Sewelo, means rare find” in Setswana, which is the language most widely used in the country.

The name of the diamond was announced in a special ceremony held in July last year, organized by Lucara, in the presence of the Botswana head of state, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi.

 “The largest diamond recovered in Botswana’s history was named by the people of Botswana in a celebration of Botswana’s success,” said Eira Thomas, Lucara’s CEO, speaking at the ceremony. “Lucara is proud to share our achievements with all stakeholders in Karowe and the people of Botswana.”

Botswana’s Kurowe mine, the site at which the Sewelo diamond was discovered in 2019.


The fact that Louis Vuitton bought the diamond is particularly interesting, with analysts speculating that is indicative of LVMH’s intention in general to become the dominant player in the high-end jewelry bracket. In November last year it purchased bought New York-headquartered Tiffany & Company for $135 a share in cash, with the total value of the deal being worth $16.7 billion, making it the largest-ever company purchase in the luxury retail sector. In 2001, LVMH paid $5.2 million for the Italian jewelry house Bulgari.

“Nobody expects us to put such an emphasis on high jewelry,” said Michael Burke, chief executive of Louis Vuitton, after the Sewelo purchase, in conversation with the New York Times. “I think it will spice things up a bit. Wake up the industry.”


Burke added that Louis Vuitton does intend selling the diamond or diamonds the rough stone yield, and not holding onto gem as Tiffany did with the 128.54-carat fancy yellow Tiffany Yellow Diamond, which he company’s founder, Charles Tiffany, bought as a 287-carat rough stone in 1877.

“We are experimenting with a different way of bringing a stone to market,” Burke told the New York Times.