The recent 2019 Botswana Consumer Trade Fair saw an exact replica of the world-renowned Okavango Blue diamond, Botswana’s biggest-ever blue diamond, displayed to the general public by the Okavango Diamond Company (ODC).
The ODC exhibit allowed the public to interact with several natural diamonds on its stand. According to Marcus Ter Haar, managing director of ODC, enabling the public to experience natural diamonds first-hand added to the excitement around the company’s flagship diamond, the Okavango Blue.
Blue diamonds are extremely scarce, and the Okavango Blue is even more so, described by leading global gemmologists as the most unique blue diamond ever encountered.
The Botswana-sourced natural diamond’s striking colour has been graded as a Type IIb ‘Fancy Deep Blue’. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has graded the diamond as an Oval Brilliant Cut, VVS2 clarity, with one of the highest polished colour classifications of any blue diamond. As a 41.11 carat rough stone, it is the biggest blue diamond ever discovered in Botswana. Its unique and vibrant blue colour is created by the inclusion of the rare mineral boron which between 1-3 billion years ago was present in the rocks of ancient oceans during violent diamond-forming volcanic activity.
Anyone fortunate enough to own a natural blue diamond is in possession of a truly rare and unique gem. Every blue diamond is an archaeological wonder, dating back almost 3 billion years.
The ODC acquired and managed the polishing of this celebrity diamond with the intention of, “placing Botswana on the global map as a leading natural diamond producer, trader and beneficiator,” says Ter Haar. “ODC’s planned international auction of the Okavango Blue will be history in the making,” he adds.
The polished diamond is named The Okavango Blue in recognition of Botswana’s own environmental natural treasure and World Heritage site, the Okavango Delta. It is also the symbol of the ODC, the diamond sales and marketing arm of the Botswana government. “The rarity and provenance of the Okavango Blue, along with our appreciation that this diamond would soon enter the annals of history, inspired us to acquire this unique stone as an innovative way to reposition ODCs brand, and also the brand of Botswana,” says Ter Haar.
Diamonds are the largest private sector employer in Botswana and the primary engine for growth and development, contributing an estimated 90% of the value of exports and 30% of GDP. Before diamonds were discovered in Botswana in 1966, income per capita was approximately USD70. Average Botswana GDP per capita is currently estimated at about USD8 000.
Today, diamonds account for almost half of government revenue, contributing to the economic growth and well-being of the entire country through employment creation, the funding of schools and hospitals and other critical infrastructure.
Botswana’s diamond industry offers citizens huge opportunity from sorting and valuing to global sales. Significantly, “the industry is also being used by initiatives like ODC’s YEP, to generate a host of other opportunities in service and knowledge-based industries across Botswana,” says Ter Haar.
The great advantage of Botswana’s diamond industry is that it is the world-leader in the supply of ethically-sourced natural diamonds. In addition to providing traceability of origin, Botswana manages diamonds in a manner that puts the people of Botswana first, providing consumers, “the confidence to purchase Botswana diamonds knowing that they are improving the lives of the people of Botswana,” adds Ter Haar.
ODC is a rough diamond marketing company that is wholly owned by the Botswana Government. ODC, which was launched in 2013, and with revenues of more than USD500-million has quickly emerged as one of the leading, global suppliers of responsibly sourced diamonds. The company offers its customers the largest supply of natural rough diamonds exclusively of Botswana origin.
The ODC obtains its rough diamond’s directly from Debswana, whose diamond mining operations are located across Botswana in Orapa, Letlhakane, Damtshaa and Jwaneng mines. Thereafter, rough diamonds are sold through ODC’s transparent online auctions to a global customer base who ultimately polish diamonds and produce diamond jewellery destined for the leading consumer markets.