Super-Rare 30.80-Carat Purple Diamond Found in Refuse Pile by South African Tailings Processor

A super-rare 30.80-carat purple diamond with “exquisite gemological characteristics” was salvaged at a diamond tailings plant in Kimberley, South Africa.

Tailings are the residue of the diamond-bearing ore that was processed during the original mining operation.

Oftentimes, the tailings will contain viable gems and this is why Batla Minerals’ Superkolong recovery plant has been set up near DeBeers’ famous Kimberley Mine. The tailings plant recovers 15,000 carats of mostly lower-quality diamonds each month.

However, while sorting through tons of waste material, the company spotted the massive purple rough diamond, which they named the “Kimberley Purple.”

Batla Minerals CEO Jean Retief told NationalJeweler.com that the discovery of the Kimberley Purple is a “clear statement of the (Superkolong’s) viability and its ability to produce something special.”

The Kimberley Purple is currently on display in Antwerp and will be tendered later this month.

Due to their rarity, purple diamonds demand the highest premiums and can yield more than $1 million per carat.

In 2014, another purple diamond, the “Purple Orchid”, a 3.37-carat fancy intense pinkish-purple diamond was valued at $4 million, or about $1.18 million per carat.

Israeli diamond company Leibish & Co. introduced the Purple Orchid to the world during the 2014 September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair.

What makes purple diamonds purple is still a scientific mystery. It’s been established that a yellow diamond gets its dazzling color from minute traces of nitrogen in the diamond’s chemical composition and a blue diamond gets its color from boron. When it comes to purple, scientists suspect hydrogen as the stray element, but they’re not so sure.

Purple diamonds can be found in only three locations worldwide — South Africa, Russia and Brazil. While Russia’s purple diamonds have overtones of blue and Brazil’s purple diamonds tend to have a hint of orange, the purples and intense pinkish purples from South Africa display the absolute best brilliance and purple sparkle, according to Leibish.

This fact bodes well for the Kimberley Purple, a South African stone. We can’t wait to see what cut is in store for this fabulous find.

Images: Kimberley Purple via nationaljeweler.com (uncredited); Purple Orchid courtesy of Leibish & Co.