The Queen of Kalahari, a 342-carat rough diamond that Lucara Diamond mining company recovered in Botswana’s Karowe Mine two years ago, has been transformed into a six-piece jewelry set includeing 23 diamonds. Lucara took over the mine, previously owned by the De Beers Group, in 2010. Their installation of new diamond-recovery technology has enabled them to transform the mine and source exceptionally high-quality stones such as the 813-carat Constellation diamond, which was sold to de Grisogono for $63 million, and the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona, the second largest gem-quality diamond ever discovered. The name of the rough, the Queen of Kalahari, is in reference to the desert that is home to the Karowe mine ad well as a tribute to the female miner who discovered the stone.
Of all the rough that was sourced from the mine, Chopard’s co-president Caroline Scheufele believes hers is the purest. "It’s as white as can be, it has no fluorescence and right from the start it was D color, Type IIA. We could have cut two big 80-carat stones from it and maybe made a pair of drop earrings," Scheufele muses. "Somebody else would have done that, but Chopard is all about creativity. I didn’t just want one piece, I wanted a whole set."
Computer modelling suggested the possibility of cutting 23 diamonds in various shapes and sizes, all of which were D-color and Flawless. Experts in Antwerp spent months cutting them with a result of five diamonds being above 20 carats: a 50-carat round brilliant, a 26-carat heart shape, a 25-carat pear, a 21-carat emerald cut and a 20-carat cushion, each representing a different flower as "nature gave us this stone".
Once all the stones were cut, Schefele had all the ingredients for "the most prestigious set of jewelry ever to emerge from Chopard’s High Jewelry workshop" – a six-piece set dubbed the Gardens of Kalahari. The set contains two rings, a necklace, a bracelet, a pair of earrings and a secret watch. What makes the set entirely distinct is the collection’s versatility: "I’ve always wanted to do a whole set that you can play with, detach, wear in different ways. I think women like to have something they can alter for different occasions." The process of creating the Gardens of Kalahari took over 3,200 hours, passing different parts of Chopard’s atelier when melting the gold, sketching the designs, to finally setting and polishing each diamond.