Diamonds / Industry

Why Is De Beers Suddenly Buying Rough At Auction?


For the last 20 years, ever since it gave up its worldwide buying offices, De Beers has been far more of a rough seller than a rough buyer.

And yet, the diamond giant, in association with sightholder Diacore, recently made its second big fancy colored rough purchase in the course of a year.

On July 12, Petra Diamonds sold a 39.34 ct. Type IIb blue diamond recovered at the Cullinan diamond mine in April to a partnership between De Beers and Diacore, for $40.2 million, or $1.02 million a carat. Giving this purchase a certain layer of irony, De Beers sold the Cullinan mine to Petra in 2007.

“This sets a new milestone for Petra in achieving its highest price for a single stone,” said Petra CEO Richard Duffy in a statement.

The purchase comes on the heels of the De Beers–Diacore partnership’s purchase of the Letlapa Tala Collection of five blue diamonds from Petra in November 2020. Those stones, which weighed 85.6 cts. in total, also came from Cullinan, and sold for $40.3 million.

The purchases have sparked a bit of market speculation, with some wondering just what has brought about this sudden spurt of big-money buys.

De Beers spokesperson David Johnson says the company plans to “maximize the beauty of these remarkable diamonds and find the best ways to take them to market.

“Diamonds such as these are extremely rare, so the opportunity to purchase them was one we wanted to act on, and given our collective marketing know-how and expertise across the diamond pipeline—not only with rough diamonds, but also at the retail level with our high-end diamond brand in De Beers Jewellers—we believe we are well placed to create something really exciting with these miracles of nature. It’s too early to say exactly what will be next for these diamonds, but we look forward to sharing more information in due course.”

(Photo courtesy of Petra)

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By: Rob Bates

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