Sierra Leone auctions off "peace diamond" for US$6.5 million

Sierra Leone auctions off

The government of Sierra Leone has sold a 709-carat rough diamond, named the "peace diamond", at an auction in NY on Monday, fetching a lower-than-expected price of $6.5 million.

"100% of the value of this diamond, of the auction sale, is going to go to the government and the people of Sierra Leone".

Ahead of Monday's auction, the diamond was shown to some 70 potential buyers and received seven bids, Rapaport said.

"Peace diamond" plays on the term "blood diamond", which were diamonds rebel groups sold during Sierra Leone's brutal civil war in the 1990s to buy arms and ammunition.

"The color of this diamond is very uncertain".

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Before the year closes, Graff Diamond's chairman, Laurence Graff, has added another significant stone to its portfolio.

Commenting on this gesture, pastor Emmanuel Momo, says: "The Peace Diamond will greatly improve the lives of our people as it will bring clean water, electricity, schools, medical facilities, bridges and roads to our villages and the Kono District".

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

Officials said they also hoped the sale will help combat the West African country's illicit diamond trade.

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. "It is always special to be able to give back to the places that provide us with these handsome stones".