Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Sierra Leone sells its egg-sized 709-carat diamond for $6.5 million

Sierra Leone sells its egg-sized 709-carat diamond for $6.5 million

The government of the West African country of Sierra Leone has auctioned off a rough "peace diamond" for US$6.5 million (NT$195 million), with half the proceeds to benefit the local community, reports said.

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 diamond was unearthed in March in Sierra Leone's eastern Kono region by a Christian pastor, who handed it to the government.

The diamond is said to be the 14th-largest ever discovered, according to the Rapaport Group, which auctioned the stone in NY on behalf of Sierra Leone's government. Rapaport says that the sale of this diamond will provide "lifesaving infrastructure" to the village that has no water, electricity, roads, health or education service.

The gem, called the "peace diamond", is about the size of an egg and was sold at auction in NY. In many cases, groups used slave labor to mine the stones.

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Ernest Bai Koroma. The president of Sierra Leone praised Momoh "for not smuggling the diamond out of the country".

An earlier bid of $7.8m was rejected by the government when the stone was initially auctioned in Freetown, after it said that the figure was too low.

Senior officials were nonetheless optimistic about the sale's effects on the illicit diamond trade in Sierra Leone.

"Instead of being ripped off in some dark corners when they find their diamonds, that they will bring it and put it on the table in front of the government", he said, adding: "Maybe this is going to be the beginning of a new day in Sierra Leone".

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