Romancing The Stone: Louis Vuitton Shows Off Huge Rough Diamond
The biggest rough diamond discovered in over a century was shown to private clients Tuesday by French luxury handbag-maker Louis Vuitton, which acquired the 1,758-carat gem to make a big splash in the high-end jewellery market.
The stone named “Sewell,” meaning “rare find” in the Tswana tongue of Botswana where it was discovered is the size of a tennis ball.
It is the second-biggest diamond ever found, after the 3,100-carat “Cullinan” mined in neighbouring South Africa in 1905, which went on to adorn Britain’s crown jewels.
Canadian mining company Lucara Diamond, which recovered the stone, last week announced a deal with Louis Vuitton and the Antwerp-based diamond manufacturer HB Company to have it carved up and polished.
Louis Vuitton, part of the LVMH luxury conglomerate, created surprise in the jewellery sector by pipping high-end houses such as Cartier and Graff to acquire the bragging rights to what could be the diamond deal of the century.
It comes after LVMH successfully wooed New York jewellery house Tiffany, agreeing to fork out $16.2 billion (14.6 billion euros) for the fabled maker of wedding rings and diamonds that come in blue boxes.
“It’s the biggest potential we have right now,” Louis Vuitton chief executive Michael Burke told the Financial Times recently of the company’s gem business.
By showing clients the rough diamond, LVMH also aims to set itself apart in the rarefied world of high jewellery, which is centred on Paris’s ritzy Place Vendome.
“No jeweller has done that (show the rough stone) — that is not the way high-end jewellery functions, it does not show what happens behind the scenes,” Burke told the FT, adding that Louis Vuitton’s goal was to be “utterly transparent in what mine it came from and associating the final client in the creation of the final stone”.
While it has a glittering destiny, “Sewell” currently resembles a lump of coal, still coated in the black carbon in which it was mined.