Despite what their hefty price tag might suggest, diamonds aren’t rare. About 133 million carats – that’s 26.6 tonnes (about 29.3 tons) – are mined each year, and there’s more than a quadrillion tonnes of them buried under the Earth’s surface. If, for some reason, you don’t fancy taking them out of the ground, you can grow them in a lab instead. And if all else fails, occasionally, they even rain down on us from space.
Usually, however, the diamonds that turn up naturally in the Earth are pretty small – just one-tenth of a carat on average, according to those in the business. So when a diamond over 5,000 times that size turns up unexpectedly, people tend to take notice.
That’s what miners in Canada’s Northwest Territories discovered this October: a huge, brilliantly yellow diamond, 552 carats in weight. For reference, that’s about three-quarters the weight of a baseball, about twice the weight of a tennis ball, or, charmingly, the weight of about five mice.
“This incredible discovery showcases what is truly spectacular about Canadamark diamonds,” said Kyle Washington, Chairman of Dominion Diamond Mines, the company that owns the mine where the diamond was found.
“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,” he added. “Our Diavik Mine has produced some of the most beautiful diamonds in the world, and this one certainly tops the list.”
Reportedly measuring 33.74 by 54.56 millimeters (1.33 by 2.15 inches), the diamond is roughly the size of a chicken egg and nearly three times bigger than the largest diamond found in North America up until now – a luminous 188-carat diamond dubbed “Foxfire”.
“[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,” reports a statement on the find. “Its color, texture, and structure are also unique from a geological perspective and may be studied further.”
Sadly for any hopeful jewelry shoppers out there, Dominion have not said how much the new record-holder is likely to sell for. As a rough guide, however, they point out that Foxfire sold for well over $1 million at auction – meaning that, for most of us, there’s a better chance of getting a diamond out of peanut butter than owning this gargantuan beauty.
“The diamond will not be sold in its rough form,” reports the statement. “Due to the significance of the discovery, Dominion will select a partner in the coming weeks who will cut and polish the 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.”
Oh well – there’s always Arkansas.