Dig it: World’s third-largest diamond unearthed in Botswana

For lovers of gems, this was the mother lode.

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The world’s third-largest diamond was unearthed in Botswana last week, government officials announced.

Debswana Diamond Company, a mining company jointly owned by the government and the De Beers Group, discovered a 1,098.3-carat high gem-quality diamond on June 1. The precious stone was presented to President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday, CNN reported.

The stone was handed to the president by Lynette Armstrong, Debswana Diamond Company’s acting managing director, Reuters reported. It is surpassed in size only by the 3,106-carat Cullinan stone recovered in South Africa in 1905 and the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona found by Lucara Diamonds in Botswana in 2015, the news organization reported.

The Cullinan diamond was cut into smaller stones, some of which form part of the British royal family’s crown jewels, CNN reported. The Lesedi La Rona diamond was sold to luxury jeweler Graff for $53 million in 2017, the network reported.

“This is the largest diamond to be recovered by Debswana in its history of over 50 years in operation,” Armstrong told Reuters.

Botswana’s official government Twitter account wrote that “proceeds from the diamond will be used to advance national development in the country.”

Botswana receives as much as 80% of the income from Debswana’s sales through dividends, royalties and taxes, according to Reuters.

The diamond was found in Jwaneng mine’s South Kimberlite pipe by metallurgy assistant Orakeng Kefentse, CBS News reported.

Botswana is Africa’s largest producer of diamonds. Debswana officials said the previous record for a gem-quality diamond found at the mine was 446 carats in 1993, CBS News reported.

“Debswana will work with the Government of the Republic of Botswana and De Beers to value and sell the diamond to ensure it returns maximum benefit for the people of Botswana,” the company said in a statement. “And (we) will communicate further plans to bring this unique treasure to market in due course.”