The Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) is in talks with major auction houses to stage a sale of the world-famous Okavango Blue diamond in the first half of next year, BusinessWeek has learnt.
The 20.46 carat blue diamond was unearthed at Debswana’s Orapa Mine in the third quarter of last year and with the third highest purity rating, is expected to fetch millions when it finally goes on sale at auction.
ODC managing director, Marcus ter Haar told BusinessWeek that the ongoing slump in the global diamond sector had stalled the planned sale of the precious stone. He said ODC had undertaken an initial campaign for Okavango Blue and continued it globally on various platforms, focusing on Botswana’s uniqueness and positioning in the diamond world. “With the slight downturn in the industry it didn’t look too prudent to sell it and we have a calendar of marketing events which will see us through to the middle of next year,” ter Haar said. “It is planned to sell it in the first half of next year.” Ter Haar said rather than hunt for private buyers or collectors, ODC was in talks with high profile global auction houses to help offload the Okavango Blue.
“As a business, we sell via auction and we believe in that system,” he said, on the sidelines of this week’s Diamond Conference.
“Auctions generate competition
“It was therefore almost natural for us to look at an auction to sell the Okavango Blue.”
Ter Haar said the Okavango Blue being exceptional, it was necessary to partner with established auction houses who understand the methodology of selling high end goods.
ODC’s decision to go the auction route will raise painful memories locally, as the country’s most exceptional diamond, the 1,109 carat Lesedi la Rona, suffered a phenomenal flop after an alleged auction conspiracy amongst traders in London.
The giant stone was initially expected to fetch US$70 million, but at the June 2016 auction, traders reportedly influenced private buyers and pushed the price down, with the diamond failing to meet its reserve price. Lesedi la Rona eventually sold for US$53 million in 2017.
Lucara Botswana managing director, Naseem Lahri told BusinessWeek the company had learnt its own lessons when it attempted to sell Lesedi la Rona.
“When we sold Lesedi la Rona, we didn’t know what the market was and you need to do a lot of analysis to understand what to do with your stone.
“I wish ODC a lot of luck,” she said.