Sierra Leone 'Peace Diamond' undersells for over $6 million at auction

Sierra Leone 'Peace Diamond' undersells for over $6 million at auction

Sierra Leone 'Peace Diamond' undersells for over $6 million at auction

The 14th largest diamond in the world, Sierra Leone "Peace Diamond" sold for $6,536,360 (USD) in NY on Monday.

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 stone was extracted in March by Emmanuel Momoh, a pastor in one of the myriad churches that ministers to the mining communities of Kono district, the diamond centre of the war-torn West African nation.

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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.

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.

In contrast, the 709-carat rough gem sold in NY will see its proceeds used to improve conditions in the small village where it was found. Schools, hospitals, electricity, clean water and transportation all stand to benefit from the sale, according to the Rapaport Group, which handled the auction. In many cases, groups used slave labor to mine the stones.

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The gem was first auctioned in Freetown for US$7.07 million earlier this year, but the government rejected the offer.

The UN enacted a ban on all diamond exports from the country until 2003, but illicit smuggling continues to mark the modern diamond trade.

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