The biggest rough diamond discovered in over a
century was shown to private clients Tuesday by French luxury handbag-maker
Louis Vuitton, which acquired the 1,758-carat gem to make a big splash in the
high-end jewellery market.

The stone named “Sewelo,” meaning “rare find” in the tswana tongue of
Botswana where it was discovered, is the size of a tennis ball.

It is the second-biggest diamond ever found, after the 3,100-carat
“Cullinan” mined in neighbouring South Africa in 1905, which went on to adorn
Britain’s crown jewels.

Louis Vuitton shows off huge rough diamond

Canadian mining company Lucara Diamond, which recovered the stone, last
week announced a deal with Louis Vuitton and the Antwerp-based diamond
manufacturer HB Company to have it carved up and polished.

Louis Vuitton, part of the LVMH luxury conglomerate, created surprise in
the jewellery sector by pipping high-end houses such as Cartier and Graff to
acquire the bragging rights to what could be the diamond deal of the century.

It comes after LVMH successfully wooed New York jewellery house Tiffany,
agreeing to fork out 16.2 billion US dollars
(14.6 billion euros) for the fabled maker
of wedding rings and diamonds that come in blue boxes.

“It’s the biggest potential we have right now,” Louis Vuitton chief
executive Michael Burke told the Financial Times recently of the company’s gem

Louis Vuitton shows off huge rough diamond

By showing clients the rough diamond, LVMH also aims to set itself apart in
the rarefied world of high jewellery, which is centred on Paris’s ritzy Place

“No jeweller has done that (show the rough stone) – that is not the way
high-end jewellery functions, it does not show what happens behind the
scenes,” Burke told the FT, adding that Louis Vuitton’s goal was to be
“utterly transparent in what mine it came from and associating the final
client in the creation of the final stone”.

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While its has a glittering destiny, “Sewelo” currently resembles a lump of
coal, still coated in the black carbon in which it was mined.

Lucara, which said it will receive 50 percent of the proceeds of the
resulting diamonds with a further five percent going towards community
projects in Botswana, said the “full potential of this special stone” would be
revealed only when polished.

Louis Vuitton has not said how much it paid for the stone nor how much it
could eventually be worth.

LVMH venturing into the world of luxury diamonds

Raluca Anghel, head of external affairs of the global Diamond Producers
Association, said that experts who enjoyed a close look believed it to have
“true potential”.

“You can already imagine everything you can create from this unique
diamond,” she said.

Louis Vuitton shows off huge rough diamond

For Arnaud Cadart, portfolio manager at the French asset management firm
Flornoy & Associes, the acquisition allows Louis Vuitton to “boost its aura
and position itself in an increasingly high-end market by seeking out very big
clients for exclusive products.”

Louis Vuitton made its first foray into the world of ultra-luxury jewels a
decade ago, seeking to imbue the brand with a touch of extra glamour and tap
into possible cross-selling — handbag-plus-jewels — opportunities.

In 2012, it joined the creme de la creme of high jewellery, including Van
Cleef & Arpels, Cartier and Boucheron, by opening a store on Place Vendome.

After the Paris showing, the “Sewelo” will be taken on a tour of
prospective foreign clients.(AFP)

Photo coutresy of Louis Vuitton



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