Giant ‘of the peace diamond’ sells for $6.5 m

A giant 709-carat diamond to the light in Sierra Leone has sold at auction in New York for $6.5 m (£4.8 m).

Laurence Graff, chairman of Graff Diamonds, won the precious stone – the nickname of the “peace diamond” – in the offer of the Monday.

The half of the income of $3.8 m, will be used to finance infrastructure projects in benefit of the community of the small village where it was discovered.

The one in Sierra Leone, the government rejected an offer of $7.8 m before the auction.

The government now hopes to use the money collected to improve conditions in the village of Koryardu, including the introduction of a new supply of water, electricity, roads, medical care and the construction and maintenance of schools.

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“The Peace Diamond bought by Laurence Graff is going to change the life, though it is a shame that the diamond has not been sold for a wildly expensive,” the director-general of 77diamonds.com Tobias Kormind, said.

The previous bid of $7.8 m was rejected by the government when the stone was initially auctioned in Freetown, after it was said that the figure was too low.

The “peace diamond”, which is said to be the 14th largest recorded diamonds in the world, was delivered to the Sierra Leone government in March after it was discovered by Emmanuel Momoh, a Christian pastor.

Mr Momoh told the BBC’s Newsday programme before the auction, the Monday that the sale of the diamonds to the intermediaries have not “benefited the community”.

“We lack a lot of things. We do not have a good network of roads, … or drinking water”, he added.

The sale of the diamond was handled by the Rapaport Group, which waived all fees.

The group’s chairman, Martin Rapaport, told Newsday that the sale might cause a “radical shift in the relationship between the artisanal miners and the government,” if the community is seen to benefit.

“To encourage the others to work with the government,” he said.