Diamond miner Lucapa has already produced more than 3000 carats from its newly started second mine in the African nation of Lesotho.

Lucapa only started commercial diamond recoveries from its Mothae mine in early December and is already digging up gems that are more than twice the forecast grade.

The tidy package included nine large “specials” (diamonds weighing more than 10.8 carats) including D-colour gems weighing 78 carats and 38 carats.

Colour is the second most important characteristic of a diamond after the cut.

The highest quality diamonds are colourless, while lower quality diamonds have noticeable colour that appears as pale yellow.

Diamonds rated D to G are known as white diamonds. D diamonds are very rare and colourless.

38 carat D-colour white diamond recovered from Mothae. Pic: Lucapa
38 carat D-colour white diamond recovered from Mothae. Pic: Lucapa

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Lucapa has already picked up three more “specials” this year, which head of investor relations Mark Drummond told Stockhead is “not a bad start” to 2019.

In the December quarter, Lucapa sold around 4000 carats of diamonds recovered from earlier bulk sampling at Mothae for $US1.5m ($2.1m), with individual sale prices up to $US15,000 per carat.

The first commercial sale of Mothae diamonds is slated for the first quarter in Antwerp.

Diamond miners like to sell their products via international commercial tender in Antwerp to get the highest price.

“It comes as Lucapa prepares to achieve a significant milestone at its Lulo mine in Angola, with seven exceptional special diamonds to be sold in the first international competitive bidding process under Angola’s positive new diamond marketing laws,” Mr Drummond said.

Last year Lucapa held back a bunch of its best sparklers from sale until the Angolan government passed new laws allowing diamonds to be sold through international tender.

Previously, diamonds had to be sold through a central state-owned government agency.

Lucapa is this month undertaking a competitive bid sale of the Lulo diamonds — the first to be offered for sale through international tender under the Angolan government’s new marketing policy.