Botswana has unveiled a blue diamond whose value could outstrip that of the storied Hope Diamond: the 20.46-carat, close-to-flawless Okavango Blue.
The diamond was presented in Gaborone, Botswana by the state-owned Okavango Diamond Company. Found as a 41.11-carat rough stone in the Orapa mine operated by the producer Debswana, the jewel is the largest blue diamond ever found in Botswana.
Like the Hope Diamond -- which likely originated in Golconda, India and now resides at the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of Natural History in Washington -- the Okavango Blue is a Type IIb "fancy blue" diamond. (Its tint the result of boron inside the gem.)
While the Hope Diamond is larger at 45.52 carats, the Okavango Blue's immense value lies in its clarity. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) graded the diamond as "Very, Very Slightly Included," or VVS2, meaning inclusions -- internal imperfections -- "are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification."
In comparison, the Hope Diamond received a "Very Slightly Included," or VS1 grade, according to the Smithsonian, meaning "inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification."
Marcus ter Haar, managing director of Okavango Diamond Company, said in a statement: "It is incredibly unusual for a stone of this color and nature to have come from Botswana -- a once-in-lifetime find, which is about as rare as a star in the Milky Way."
"It is little surprise blue diamonds are so sought after around the world as only a very small percentage of the world's diamonds are classified as fancy color and, of those, only a select few can be classified as being Fancy Blue," he said.
"Only a handful of similar blue stones have come to market during the last decade, of which the Okavango Blue rightfully takes its place as one of the most significant."