Canadian multi listed rare gem producer Lucara Diamond Corporation , which wholly owns Karowe Mine has announced a watershed collaboration with the world‘s leading luxury goods outfit , Louis Vuitton , a unit of multibillion dollar conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE , owned by French billionaire Bernard Arnault.
A communiqué from the Vancouver headquartered top gem mining giant says an agreement has been reached in which the famous luxury goods behemoth in conjunction with HB , a diamond manufacturer in Antwerp, Belgium will manufacture Lucara’s historic, record setting, 1758 carat Sewelô diamond recovered from its 100% owned Karowe Diamond Mine in Botswana in April 2019.
Sewelô, which means "rare find" in Setswana, is the second, +1000 carat diamond recovered from Karowe in four years and the largest ever recovered in Botswana. The diamond has been characterized as near gem of variable quality, with recent analysis confirming that it also includes domains of higher-quality white gem.
Lucara says the full potential of this special stone will only be revealed once polished. The BSE listed rare diamonds producer revealed this week that the purpose of this unprecedented collaboration between a miner, a cutting edge manufacturer and a large luxury brand will be the planning, cutting and polishing of a collection of diamonds from Sewelô.
Eira Thomas,President & Chief Executive Officer of Lucara shared that the company will receive an upfront non-material payment for Sewelô and retain a 50% interest in the individual polished diamonds that result. Further, 5% of all of the retail sales proceeds generated from this historic collection will be invested directly back into Botswana on community-based initiatives undertaken by Lucara.
“We are delighted to be partnering with Louis Vuitton, the famous luxury House, to transform the historic, 1,758 carat Sewelô,Botswana's largest diamond, into a collection of fine jewellery that will commemorate this extraordinary discovery and contribute direct benefits to our local communities of interest in Botswana." She said.
Karowe mine’s unparalled gem producer status
After discovering one of the magnificent and extraordinary diamonds in history ,the 812.77-carat Type IIa stone named the “Constellation” at Karowe in 2015 , Lucara sold the diamond to Dubai based Nemesis International in collaboration with Swiss jeweler de Grisogono in May 2016 at a tune of $63.1 million (about P635 million) Nemesis and de Grisogono went on to cut and polish the Constellation into 8 exceptional diamonds amongst them the largest D-color diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America, 313 carats named the ‘’Constellation One’’.
The UAE diamond giant, Nemesis says it took 18 months to cut it from an enormous chunk of rough unearthed in the outpost of Boteti district, stone away from Letlhakane village. Sewelo is the world ‘s second largest rough diamond ever mined , unearthed from EM/PK(S) unit of the South Lobe of Karowe Mine and was recovered through Lucara’s XRT circuit .
The largest was 3 106.75 carat Cullinan diamond which was discovered in South Africa in 1905 and eventually yielded two enormous high-quality stones one of 530.4 carats and one 317.4, both now part of the British crown jewels, as well as many smaller stones. The name Sewelô was selected from over 22,000 submissions in a contest open to all citizens of Botswana.
Karowe has also produced Lesedi La Rona, discovered in 2016 and sold to Graff for $53 million .Unlike both the Constellation and the Lesedi la Rona , Sewelo is relatively black ,covered in carbon, visibly looking like a ball of coal , something which diamond experts say it makes what kind of diamond material is inside a “mystery,” . This is according to Ulrika D’Haenens-Johansson, a senior research scientist at the Gemological Institute of America.
Louis Vuitton dominance
This is the first time Louis Vuitton has bought a rough stone without having presold it to a client, most branded fine jewelers buy stones that are already cut and polished. This follows weeks after Louis Vuitton ‘s parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE acquired American iconic jewelry brand Tiffany & Co at a tune of over $16.2 billion.
The purchase of the world ‘s second largest diamond ever found put out a clear signal that LVMH is out not just to compete, but to utterly dominate the high jewelry market. American Business writer Vennesa Fredman of the NewYork Times says taken together, the double punch of purchasing brand and stone in less than two months is the luxury equivalent of shock and awe.
Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.
Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”
Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”
The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.
“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.
Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.
Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.
Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.
Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”
In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”
Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.
“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.
Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.
Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.
He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”
Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.
“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.
One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.
A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.
Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.
A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.”
Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.