Mark Rendell
Mark Rendell

Big Rock: North America’s Largest Diamond From NWT

The Diavik Foxfire, or Noiʔeh Kwe, is more than three times bigger than the previous Canadian-record holder.
“Big, honking diamonds… are something we may be seeing much more of.”

The largest diamond in North American history was unveiled today; it hails from the NWT and even has a Tlicho name.

At 187.7 carats, the Diavik Foxfire, or Noiʔeh Kwe (Caribou Crossing Stone), is considerably larger than the apparent previous Canadian-record holder, a 151-carat stone found at Diavik in 2003.* It’s unclear how much Noiʔeh Kwe, which was unveiled at Kensington Palace in London, England, is worth. But as a point of reference, a 55-carat diamond from Diavik, which had been cut down to a 15.10-carat gem and mounted in a platinum ring band, was going for $3.7 million earlier this year.

The price of the diamond itself is surely good news for Rio Tinto and Dominion, joint owners of Diavik. But record-breaking finds are also increasingly important from a marketing perspective. As the Financial Post noted last week:

“Big, honking diamonds… are something we may be seeing much more of. Compared to the double-digit drop in the price of retail-grade diamonds, the rarer sizes have only fallen three to five per cent.”

Likewise, with ever-improving lab-grown diamonds, the Financial Post notes that “it wouldn’t be surprising to see mining companies put a greater focus on recovering the biggest and rarest gems as the market for “bread-and-butter engagement ring diamonds” gets tougher. High-tech lab diamonds are certainly no match for them.”

Despite smashing North American records, this “new” (two billion-year-old) diamond from Diavik is far from setting a world record. That still belongs to the 3,106.75-carat Cullinan Diamond found in 1905 in South Africa, which was cut into nine diamonds, including the 530.4-carat Great Star of Africa, crown jewel of the British Crown Jewels.

That said, Canadian diamonds tend to be known for their quality, not quantity. Last year, Canadian stones sold for an average of $166.78 per carat, well above the $116.17 per carat global average.

The Tlicho name of the diamond, at least according a story from diamondworld.net, seems to have been approved by Tlicho Grand Chief Edward Erasmus, who is quoted as saying, “I am very pleased that this has been named to honour the area of the caribou crossing, as this has been important to the Tlicho since time immemorial.”

After being shown in London, the diamond will head over to Antwerp “for careful assessment and planning for the next stage of its journey. It is likely to yield at least one very large polished diamond.” The announcement doesn’t seem to have positively influenced Rio Tinto or Dominion’s stock prices, at least as of yet. Rio Tinto stocks were down 2.54 percent and Dominion Stocks were down 0.73 percent at the time of publication.

The Noiʔeh Kwe in action

*Initially we reported “this is more than three times bigger than the previous Canadian-record holder, the 55-carat North Star diamond, also from Diavik.” This information was gleaned from a Toronto Star article form September 2015. Communications people with Diavik have since been pointed out that a 151-carat stone had been found at the mine in 2003.