* Diamond will be scrutinised for clarity, inclusions
* Sale price underlines strength of market for rare stones
By David Brough
LONDON, Feb 26 (Reuters Life!) - A 507-carat rough diamond
which sold to a Hong Kong jewellery company for a world record
$35.3 million on Friday could yield a large, unblemished
polished gemstone for a super-wealthy Chinese collector.
Miner Petra Diamonds (PDL.L) sold the Cullinan Heritage
diamond on tender in South Africa to Chow Tai Fook Jewellery
Company Limited in Hong Kong, for the highest sale price ever
achieved for a rough diamond.
The stone by far exceeded its pre-sale estimate, underlining
the strength of the market for magnificent diamonds. Analysts
had expected the stone, one of the biggest high-quality rough
diamonds ever found, to command about $25 million.
"It's a very special gem. It will surely go to some form of
jewellery," said Adonis Pouroulis, chairman of Petra.
"There was huge interest in the stone. A stone like this
doesn't come around very often," he told Reuters.
The gemstone, recovered from Petra's Cullinan mine in South
Africa, the origin of some of the world's most important
diamonds, is the 19th largest gem diamond ever discovered.
CHINESE MARKET GROWING FAST
Jewellers said Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Company will likely
find a buyer in China, one of the world's largest and fastest
growing diamond markets.
"The next big market for rare diamonds will be China," said
Marwan Chatila, owner of Chatila, a leading fine jeweller in
London's exclusive Bond Street jewellery hub, which had been one
of the bidders for the Cullinan Heritage.
"If the Chinese boom has legs, it will become very hard to
find such diamonds. They will be sold there."
The Cullinan Heritage has potential to yield an exquisite,
"D-flawless" clear polished stone of 170-180 carats, he said.
The finished stone would be far more valuable than the rough
Pouroulis said there had been no doubt that such a rare
rough stone would sell for an exceptional price, even during an
"It's like a Van Gogh painting. It will always sell."
Marijan Dundek, a leading authority on gemstones who
recently published a new edition of his book entitled
"Diamonds", told Reuters that the rough stone could undergo
months of examination to test its clarity.
"The key factors will be the clarity and whether there are
any inclusions, and on this basis a decision will be made on how
to cut the stone," he said.
AIM-listed Petra found the gem last September at its 74
percent owned Cullinan mine in South Africa, which it bought
from the world's largest diamond producer De Beers in 2007.
The Cullinan mine has been the source of many large
diamonds, including the world's largest rough diamond -- the
Cullinan -- at 3,106 carats. That gem was cut into the Star of
Africa stones that are now set in Britain's Crown Jewels.
(Reporting by David Brough; editing by Paul Casciato)