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06 December 2017, 11:38 | Kelvin Horton
Sierra Leone's 709-carat 'peace diamond' sells for $6.5 million
Officials hope its sale will also help combat illicit smuggling in the modern industry.
The Sierra Leone government sold a diamond for $6.5 million at a Tuesday, Dec. 5 auction in a deal that is being touted as marking "a sea of change for the diamond trade".
The egg-sized, 709-carat "Peace Diamond" is one of the largest ever discovered in Sierra Leone and between the 10th and 15th largest ever found.
Laurence Graff, chairman of Graff Diamonds, won the precious stone - nicknamed the "peace diamond" - in bidding on Monday. 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 "peace diamond", said to be the 14th largest recorded diamond in the world, was handed to the Sierra Leone government in March after it was unearthed by a Christian pastor.
"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.
The gem was first auctioned in Freetown for US$7.07 million earlier this year, but the government rejected the offer.
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".
"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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