Sierra Leone's huge 'peace diamond' fetches US$6.5M

Sierra Leone's huge 'peace diamond' fetches US$6.5M

The much anticipated auction of Sierra Leone's "Peace Diamond" was conducted on Monday in New York, APA has learnt here in Freetown.The 709 carat precious stone was auctioned by the diamond firm, the Rapatrport Group for US$6.5 million in New York.

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.

The global diamond trading network that handled the auction, the Rapaport Group, said the stone had gone to British billionaire and jeweler, Laurence Graff.

"One hundred percent of the value of this diamond, of the auction sale of this diamond, is going to go to the government and the people of Sierra Leone".

The United Nations lifted a ban on diamond exports from Sierra Leone in 2003, but the multimillion-dollar sector is still plagued by smuggling.

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Between 1991 and 2002, the Kono district - where the Peace Diamond was found - was at the centre of the "blood diamond" trade that funded the country's brutal civil war as rebel groups exchanged gems for weapons. "Therefore, the government's percentage [of the proceeds] will be used to change that narrative", Bayraytay said.

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

Momoh said he was happy to be in the NY to help negotiate the price for the diamond.

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

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