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

06 December 2017, 11:35 | Melvin Schneider

The proceeds from the sale of the 709-carat will be used to fund local development projects

The proceeds from the sale of the 709-carat will be used to fund local development projects

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.

Instead of like most diamond auctions, the value of the Peace Diamond was more in its potential social impact rather than its physical characteristics, according to the company handling the auction.

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.

The government's stake in the diamond sale will be used to fund development projects nationwide. The Rapaport Group reports in a news release that it sold the 709-carat Peace Diamond for the government free of charge.

"It will encourage all the diggers back home", said Chief Paul Ngaba Saquee, head of Sierra Leone's eastern Kono district where the diamond was found.

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Graff Diamonds won the auction from a field of 70 interested buyers and seven different bids.

The government had expected the stone, the first ever to be sold at a public auction, to fetch $7 million. "We did whatever we could and that's the best price that we can get from the market today", he said.

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 United Nations lifted a ban on diamond exports from Sierra Leone in 2003, though the $113 million sector is plagued by smuggling.

The issue spawned a Hollywood movie and saw many celebrities castigated for wearing them and launching campaigns to highlight their trade.



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