Rio Tinto and Dominion Diamond Mines have announced the recovery of the largest known gem-quality diamond ever found in North America. The 552-carat yellow diamond was unearthed in October at the Diavik Diamond Mine, approximately 135 miles south of the Arctic Circle in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Measuring around 3cm by 5.5cm, it is said to be about the size of a chicken egg. "A diamond of this size is completely unexpected for this part of the world and marks a true milestone for diamond mining in North America and Canadamark diamonds overall," the companies said in a statement. They said the diamond would likely become part of its Canadamark program.
The find far surpasses the previous record held by the Diavik Foxfire at 187.7 carats, which was recovered at the same mine in 2015, and was eventually turned into a pair of fancy yellow diamond earrings weighing 37.87 carats and 36.80 carats which recently sold at Christie's for nearly $1.6 million. Dominion Diamond Mines does not operate the Diavik Diamond Mine. The mine is operated by Diavik Diamond Mines (2012) Inc., a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, which owns a 60% interest the mine. Dominion owns 40% of Diavik.
The diamond will not be sold in its rough form, Dominion announced in a statement. Due to the significance of the discovery, Dominion will select a partner in the coming weeks to cut and polish the stone. They say that due to the size and highly technical nature of this stone, only a handful of master cutters in the world are qualified to polish it, ensuring that the stone’s beauty, color and brilliance are maximized. The statement says that it is “too soon” to place a value on this stone. Dominion expects to achieve a significant main stone once the diamond is polished, which will be Canadamark certified.
The gemstone was uncovered while passing through the initial screening process at Diavik’s recovery plant. Abrasion markings on the stone’s surface attest to the difficult journey it underwent during recovery, and the fact that it remains intact is remarkable, the company writes. Kyle Washington, Chairman of Dominion Diamond Mines comments, “The color and texture of the diamond are a unique example of the journey that natural diamonds take from their formation until we unearth them." Washington is the eldest son of Dennis Washington, owner of Washington Companies, which purchased Dominion last year. Dominion’s CEO, Patrick Evans, resigned at the beginning of December.