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Rio Tinto unveils a record rock from NWT’s Diavik diamond mine

by Greg Klein | December 2, 2015

 

Rio Tinto NYE:RIO calls it “one of the largest diamonds ever discovered in Canada.” But could it be the largest? Either way, the rock made its public debut at no less a venue than Kensington Palace, Rio announced December 2. Christened the Diavik Foxfire, and also going by the indigenous name Noi?eh Kwe, the 187.7-carat gem-quality rough surfaced at Diavik, the Northwest Territories joint venture of Rio and Dominion Diamond TSX:DDC.

At two billion years of age, “its ancient beginnings, together with the fortitude, finesse and innovative technology required to unearth a diamond in the challenging sub-arctic environment, make it a true miracle of nature,” enthused Jean-Marc Lieberherr, managing director of Rio’s diamonds division.

Referring to the indigenous name, Tlicho Grand Chief Edward Erasmus said, “I am very pleased that this has been named to honour the area of the caribou crossing, as this has been important to the Tlicho since time immemorial.”

Rio Tinto unveils a record rock from the Diavik diamond mine

The Diavik Foxfire, also known as Noi?eh Kwe.

Following its London presentation the stone returns to Antwerp for “careful assessment and planning for the next stage of its journey,” Rio stated. The rock will likely “yield at least one very large polished diamond with its ultimate destiny in an exclusive heirloom piece of jewelry.”

The stone surpasses a 182-carat rough from another NWT mine, Ekati, that didn’t meet gem quality. Dominion, now the mine’s majority owner, refers to the 78-carat Ekati Spirit as the project’s most significant find. The rough stone sold in 2011 for $6.1 million.

Perhaps with pride clouding accuracy, last September Birks claimed its 15.1-carat, $3.69-million North Star cut-and-polished jewel originated from the largest diamond found in Canada, a 55.07-carat rough from Diavik.

The past few months have seen outstanding numbers in rough sizes and cut-and-polished sales globally. In November the $48.4-million Blue Moon brought Sotheby’s “a new record price for any gemstone and per carat.” The previous day Christie’s auctioned a 16.08-carat diamond ring for $28.5 million.

Also last month, Lucara Diamond TSX:LUC announced the find of a century, a 1,111-carat stone from the Karowe mine in Botswana that’s surpassed only by the 3,106-carat Cullinan stone which now forms part of the British Crown jewels. Within days Lucara announced 813-carat and 374-carat discoveries, with weights subject to change when the stones are cleaned.

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