Fashion & Shopping

The Story Behind The Lesotho Legend

November 17, 2022

Have you heard the remarkable story of the Lesotho Legend, the fifth-largest rough diamond in terms of size and optical clarity ever mined? Acquired by Van Cleef & Arpels, we spoke with president and CEO Nicolas Bos to learn more. —Noa Nichol

Today we’re discussing the remarkable story of the Lesotho Legend, the fifth-largest rough diamond in terms of size and optical clarity ever mined! From an expert’s perspective, what makes this diamond so very unique and extraordinary?

First of all, the Lesotho Legend was exceptional for its weight : 910 carats. But what made this stone extraordinary was that its dimension came with a perfect colour, an ideal crystallization, and an extremely rare Type 2A chemical composition. As jewelers, we seldom work with rough stones. We traditionally start with cut and faceted stones that are already suitable for use in jewelry. This is the first time in decades that we have been involved in a project from its starting point—the extraction of the stone—to the creation of a High Jewelry collection. The appearance of this extraordinary rough stone gave us this unique opportunity to tell a story around the diamond.

We understand that this incredible jewel was acquired by the Maison; what more can you tell us about the acquisition? Why did Van Cleef & Arpels desire it?

Van Cleef & Arpels has had a long history of purchasing exceptional or historical diamonds. This tradition started with the Prince Edward of York, that the Maison bought in the 1920s, and was pursued for decades on. When Taché came to us with the Lesotho Legend, with the idea that Van Cleef & Arpels was the jeweler that could best showcase it, we saw this as an opportunity to give rise to a unique collection, highlighting the diamonds along with the Maison’s style.

What was it used for, and how can we obtain a piece of it?

Van Cleef & Arpels sought help from Diamcad—a leading diamond cutter in Antwerp—to plan the cutting and faceting of each stone. These specialists in cutting exceptional rough stones analyzed the Lesotho Legend, which proved suitable for producing large diamonds. Working their way around the stone’s inclusions, the experts used state-of-the-art technology to envision the position of each gem in the heart of the rough stone and to create perfect matches, combining stones of identical size and weight. This exceptional diamond was cut into 67 diamonds totaling 441.75 carats, nearly half of the initial rough, which is remarkable considering the size and the exceptional quality of the gem. These stones were then set on the 25 creations of the collection. Each piece is a true testament to the expert craftsmanship mastered in our High Jewelry workshops in Paris.

Needless to say, this is a real fantasy diamond; however, what would your ultimate gem discovery be?

At Van Cleef & Arpels, we look for exceptional stones, diamonds, or colored gemstones, that go beyond objective criteria and instill a unique emotion. I would say that all the gems highlighted by the Maison are surprising discoveries, as each of them bring a unique emotion and poetry. And to have luck, you have to believe in luck as Jacques Arpels said. So, I am optimistic for the future beauties that will come up on tomorrow’s path of the Maison.


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