‘Exceptional’ 29.6-carat blue diamond unearthed in South Africa

AFP-JIJI

A rare 29.6-carat blue diamond has been discovered in a South African mine, and it could “be in a class of its own,” the Petra Diamonds company said Tuesday.

The “exceptional” vivid blue stone was found in the Cullinan mine, near Pretoria, last week and could “yield a polished stone of great value and importance,” the company said in a statement.

“Whenever you have an item as beautiful, rare and collectible as this diamond, it is difficult to say what a buyer may be prepared to pay for it,” group spokeswoman Cathy Malins told reporters.

“We are most excited about the potential for this diamond, so it could be in a class of its own,” she added.

Petra sold a 25.5-carat blue diamond in April 2013 for $16.9 million, or $663,000 per carat — the highest per-carat price in the company’s history.

The Cullinan mine has a well-renowned history as the place where in 1905 the world’s biggest diamond — dubbed the “Cullinan” — was found. The 3,106-carat stone was cut up and two major pieces are part of the British crown jewels.

Blue diamonds are seldom seen on the market and have been coveted by royals and celebrities for centuries.

A 5.3-carat blue diamond was sold in 2013 for $9.5 million at a London auction, setting a new world record for price per carat.