January 18th, 2020 – Sara Radin
Calling all Uncut Gems fans: Louis Vuitton is now the proud owner of the world’s second-largest rough diamond of all time. First discovered in a Botswana mine (a country is known for its responsible mining), the diamond is roughly the size of a tennis ball. It will be cut, polished, and transformed into a new collection of jewelry, according to Bloomberg.
Said to be worth millions, Grazia reported that the Sewelo diamond is 1,758 carats. Cullinan, the largest diamond ever found, measures 3,106.75 carats. Unearthed in South Africa in 1905, the Cullinan was cut into polished gems including two that are now set in the crown jewels of Britain. “To put these numbers in perspective, Victoria Beckham’s pear-cut engagement ring is (a mere) 17 carats; Kim Kardashian’s is marginally bigger at 20,” Grazia explained.
The diamond purchase marks LV’s official foray into high-end jewelry (though past LV campaigns have featured actors Sophie Turner and Michelle Williams in the brand’s “accessible fine” jewelry). And according to Bloomberg, LV also recently tapped a new head jewelry designer: Francesca Amfitheatrof, formerly of Tiffany & Co. The jewelry brand itself was also just acquired by Louis Vuitton’s parent company, LVMH, in November 2019.
Michael Burke, the chief executive of Louis Vuitton, told The New York Times, “Nobody expects us to put such an emphasis on high jewelry. I think it will spice things up a bit. Wake up the industry.” In conversation with the Financial Times, Burke also said that the fine jewelry market is “the biggest potential we have right now.”
“It’s a big, unusual stone, which makes it right up our alley,” Burke told The New York Times. “We are experimenting with a different way of bringing a stone to market.” According to the outlet, the brand will not cut the stone until it has a buyer. Unlike Tiffany, which has preserved its 128.54-carat namesake stone, Louis Vuitton does not plan to hold onto the stone as a “showpiece.”
Still, it’s worth noting that the stone is coated in carbon—something Ulrika D’Haenens-Johansson, a senior research scientist at the Gemological Institute of America, told The New York Times makes the diamond material inside a “mystery.” While some say the purchase is risky, only time will tell how Louis Vuitton makes use of the stone that’s captured everyone’s imagination.