Petra Diamonds Ltd., a miner of the gems in Africa, plans to sell its first cut and polished stone at Sotheby’s in an auction that it estimates will fetch as much as $8.5 million.
The 7.03-carat blue diamond was cut from a 26.58-carat rough stone found at its Cullinan mine in South Africa, St. Helier, Jersey-based Petra said today in a statement. A carat equals 0.2 gram. The gem will be exhibited in Hong Kong, Paris, New York and London before being auctioned in Geneva on May 12.
“This stone certainly ranks among the most important blue diamonds that I have had the privilege of offering for sale,” David Bennett, head of jewelry for Europe, the Middle East and international at Sotheby’s, said in a separate statement today.
Petra, which previously sold rough diamonds for other companies to cut and polish, is getting involved in marketing and selling as industry demand plunges because of the world economic slump. De Beers, the world’s largest producer, has closed mines. Miner and retailer Harry Winston Diamond Corp. said yesterday it plans shutdowns at the Diavik mine in Canada.
“Rough-diamond prices currently aren’t that good, so we decided to go this route and ensure the stone gets maximum exposure,” Petra Chief Executive Officer Johan Dippenaar said in a telephone interview. “Sotheby’s is known to sell rare items, be it art or a stone like this.”