The iconic Okavango Blue diamond will be showcased over the coming months to promote Botswana as a leading global producer of natural ethical diamonds with an anticipated sale toward the end of the year.
The remarkable oval shaped blue diamond weighing over 20 carats was unveiled to the world by Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) in Gaborone, Botswana - the biggest blue diamond discovery ever made in Botswana.
The Botswana sourced, natural diamond’s striking colour has been graded as a Type IIb ‘Fancy Deep Blue’.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), has graded the diamond as an Oval Brilliant Cut, VVS2 clarity making it one of the highest polished colour classifications attainable for any blue diamond and at 20.46 carats it sits in the very top bracket of all-time historical blue diamond finds.
The diamond was discovered at Botswana’s Orapa mine as a 41.11 carat rough stone.
Its unique and vibrant blue colour, is created by the molecular inclusion of the rare mineral boron which between 1-3 billion years ago was present in the rocks of ancient oceans during violent diamond forming volcanic activity.
“From the first moment we saw the diamond, it was clear we had something very special," says Marcus ter Haar, MD of Okavango Diamond Company.
"Everyone who has viewed the 20 carat polished diamond has marvelled at its unique colouration which many see as unlike any blue stone they have seen before.
"It is incredibly unusual for a stone of this colour 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 colour and, of those, only a select few can be classified as being Fancy Blue.
“At ODC we have access to 15% of Debswana's run-of-mine production and feel extremely fortunate to be involved in such a singular find. “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,” says ter Haar.
Diamonds are a key natural resource for Botswana, which is a global leader of ethically and responsibly sourced diamonds.
Diamonds account for approximately half of government revenue and contribute to the economic growth and well-being of the entire country through employment creation, the funding of schools and hospitals and other critical infrastructure.
Botswana is fast being transformed into a leading global natural diamond trading and manufacturing centre, with strong emphasis placed on transparency, good governance, and the creation of broad-based business opportunities for the people of Botswana.
Lipalesa Makepe, ODC’s CEO, says ethical sourcing is becoming more crucial with ethical consumerism on the rise.
“We are conscious of how important ethically-sourced natural diamonds are to the public and are therefore fortunate that our diamond resources are managed responsibly in a manner that puts the people of Botswana first.
"Consumers can purchase Botswana diamonds with a sense of pride knowing that these diamonds are improving the lives of the people of Botswana,” she says.
The polished stone is named ‘The Okavango Blue’ in recognition of Botswana’s own environmental natural treasure and World Heritage site the Okavango Delta.
It is further a symbol of Okavango Diamond Company, the diamond sales and marketing arm of the Botswana government.
*The Gemological Institute of America has graded the stone as Oval Brilliant Cut, 20.46 carats, Fancy Deep Blue colour, VVS2 clarity.