Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –
Sep. 28 (GIN) – The ‘Lesotho Promise’ - “one of the most important diamond necklaces ever assembled’, according to the British jewelry firm Graff - is expected to reap close to $50 million for the British billionaire Laurence Graff - the dealer known as the “King of Bling”.
Named for the Kingdom of Lesotho, a tiny mountain enclave within South Africa’s borders, the 223.35-carat necklace was carved from a 603 carat stone the size of a golf ball, discovered in a Lesotho mine. It features 26 white flawless diamonds, the most valuable on the grading system.
While the Kingdom owns part of the mining rights for the Letšeng Mine where the Promise was extracted, it is 70 percent owned by the Gem Diamond Mining Company of Africa, an Australian firm. Sold uncut at the Antwerp Diamond Center in Belgium for $12 million, it could fetch five times as much in the necklace form.
While the necklace elicits gasps and wows at private showings, the southern African kingdom starves for cash, with one of the world's highest maternal mortality rates, the third highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world after Swaziland and Botswana, and over 200,000 orphans and other vulnerable children, most of them AIDS orphans.
The World Fact Book also finds Lesotho to have the highest level of inequality of incomes between rich and poor, after Namibia and South Africa. Life expectancy is 40 years of age.
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