Gem diamonds

The recent 2019 Botswana Consumer Trade Fair saw an exact replica of the world-renowned Okavango Blue diamond, Botswana’s biggest-ever blue diamond, displayed to the general public by the Okavango Diamond Company (ODC).

The ODC exhibit was unique in that, “we allowed the public to interact with a number of natural diamonds on our stand,” says Marcus Ter Haar, MD of ODC.

Enabling the public to experience natural diamonds first-hand, “added to the excitement around our flagship diamond, the Okavango Blue,” he said.  

Blue diamonds are extremely scarce and the Okavango Blue is even more so, described by leading global gemmologists as the most unique blue diamond ever encountered, a masterpiece that, like the Hope and Wittelsbach-Graff Diamonds, will become a legend in its own right, sought after and inspiring stories for generations to come.

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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, with one of the highest polished colour classifications of any blue diamond.

As a 41.11 carat rough stone, it is the biggest blue diamond ever discovered in Botswana.

Its unique and vibrant blue colour is created by the 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.

Anyone fortunate enough to own a natural blue diamond is in possession of a truly rare and unique gem.

Every blue diamond is an archaeological wonder, dating back almost 3 billion years.

The ODC acquired and managed the polishing of this celebrity diamond with the intention of, “placing Botswana on the global map as a leading natural diamond producer, trader and beneficiator,” said Ter Haar.

To this end, ODC’s planned international auction of the Okavango Blue will be, “history in the making,” he added.

The polished diamond is named The Okavango Blue in recognition of Botswana’s own environmental natural treasure and World Heritage site, the Okavango Delta.

It is also the symbol of the ODC, the diamond sales and marketing arm of the Botswana government. 

“The rarity and provenance of the Okavango Blue, along with our appreciation that this diamond would soon enter the annals of history, inspired us to acquire this unique stone as an innovative way to reposition ODCs brand, and also the brand of Botswana,” explained Ter Haar. 

The inclusion of a replica of this world-famous blue stone on ODC’s exhibition stand at this year’s Botswana Consumer Trade Fair, “provided the people of Botswana an almost first-hand glimpse of a diamond that will, in time, become synonymous with the identity of the country,” said Ter Haar.

The Botswana Consumer Trade Fair also provided an opportunity for ODC to inform young Batswana visiting the stand about ODC’s innovative Youth Entrepreneurship Programme (YEP).

The YEP initiative is designed to, “leverage the diamond industry to enable broader inclusion in the Botswana economy by helping young people identify and access the wider value chains that the diamond industry is enabling,” said Ter Haar.

Diamonds are the largest private sector employer in Botswana and the primary engine for growth and development, contributing an estimated 90% of the value of exports and 30% of GDP.

Before diamonds were discovered in Botswana in 1966, income per capita was approximately US$70. Average Botswana GDP per capita is currently estimated at approximately US$8,000.

Today, diamonds account for almost half of government revenue, contributing 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’s diamond industry offers citizens huge opportunity from sorting and valuing to global sales. Significantly, “the industry is also being used, by initiatives like ODC’s YEP, to generate a host of other opportunities in service and knowledge-based industries across Botswana,” said Ter Haar.

The great advantage of Botswana’s diamond industry is that it is the world-leader in the supply of ethically-sourced natural diamonds.

In addition to providing traceability of origin, Botswana manages diamonds in a manner that puts the people of Botswana first, providing consumers, “the confidence to purchase Botswana diamonds knowing that they are improving the lives of the people of Botswana,” added Ter Haar.

With up to 60 000 people having attended The Botswana Consumer Fair in the past, displaying diamonds at the 2019 Fair provided a wonderful opportunity, “for the people of Botswana to witness, first-hand, “the role that ethically-sourced diamonds are playing in transforming Botswana into a leading global natural diamond trading and manufacturing centre while also enabling the development of new sectors and industries across our economy,” concluded Ter Haar.