A 709-carat diamond nicknamed “peace diamond,” which was unearthed in Sierra Leone in March this year has been bought at auction in New York for US$6.5m.
The buyer has been named as Laurence Graff, chairman of Graff Diamonds.
The Sierra Leone government has pledged to use half of the proceeds, $3.8m, to improve conditions in the village of Koryardu where the diamond was found.
It is envisaged that the money will go towards a fresh supply of water, electricity, roads, medical care and the building and maintenance of schools.
Ironically the Sierra Leone government rejected a bid of $7.8m when the stone was initially auctioned in Freetown, saying the figure was too low.
Diamond experts say the “peace diamond” which was found by Emmanuel Momoh, a Christian pastor, is the 14th largest recorded diamond in the world. Momoh handed the precious stone to the Sierra Leone government.
In an interview with the BBC’s Newsday programme before the auction on Monday, pastor Momoh said he hadn’t sold the diamond to smugglers or middlemen because he wanted the proceeds of its sale to benefit the whole community. “We lack a lot of things. We don’t have a good road network … or drinking water,” he said.