Tuesday, 12 December, 2017

Sierra Leone 'Peace Diamond' sells for $6.5 million at auction

One of the world's largest diamonds sold for $6.5 million Sierra Leone's 'peace diamond' auctioned for $6.5m in US
Nellie Chapman | 06 December, 2017, 11:36

A Christian pastor had given away the more than 709-carat diamond so the government could fund local development projects.

One of the world's largest ever uncut diamonds has been sold by Sierra Leone for $6.5 million (£4.8m).

It was bought by British luxury jeweller Laurence Graff, said Martin Rapaport, chairman of Rapaport Group, a network of diamond companies that managed the auction.

The worldwide diamond trading network that handled the auction, the Rapaport Group, said the stone had gone to British billionaire and jeweler, Laurence Graff.

According to the statement, the Sierra Leone government lost a little more than $500,000 after declining a bid of $7.08 million back in May.

While the war ended, Sierra Leone still has to deal with diamond smugglers and with exploitation of workers, with activists hoping the case of the "peace diamond" will herald a new, more equitable era for the country's residents and laborers.

The government said Monday it will use the $3.9 million in tax revenue from the sale to fund clean water, electricity, schools, health centers and roads.

"It is an honor to have acquired this magnificent rough diamond - and that its sale will directly benefit a country in desperate need", Laurence Graff said in the Rapaport release.

Diamonds fueled a decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone, ending in 2002, in which rebels forced civilians to mine the stones and bought weapons with the proceeds, leading to the term "blood diamonds".

The diamond is the 14th largest diamond ever discovered and was found by a group of "impoverished artisanal diggers" in Koryardu, Sierra Leone.