Graff Diamonds of London announced that it has bought the 709-carat rough diamond, known as the Sierra Leone Peace Diamond for $6.5 million. This exceptionally large diamond was discovered in the West African country in March 2017 and it is 14th largest ever discovered and the third largest to emerge from Sierra Leone. It has been named the Peace Diamond because its sale in New York on the 4 December 2017 will bring significant economic benefit to the region of Sierra Leone in which it was found.
Discovered in river sediment by five artisanal miners in the village of Koryardu, it is thanks to the honesty of Pastor Emmanuel Momoh above, previously the legal owner of the gem, that the Peace Diamond will benefit the region. Soon after its discovery, he took the find of a lifetime to Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, the president of Sierra Leone, who pledged to auction the rough diamond through official government channels in a fully transparent and accountable manner.
The Rapaport Group based in New York, which is responsible for the marketing and sale of the gem, has partnered with the government of Sierra Leone on a pro bono basis. Approximately 41% of the proceeds of the sale of the diamond will go to the government while the remaining 59%, or $3.8 million, will benefit the local community in the Kono district, which has an estimated population of 250,000.
Pastor Emmanuel Momoh said of the sale: “The Peace Diamond will greatly improve the lives of our people as it will bring clean water, electricity, schools, medical facilities, bridges and roads to our villages and the Kono District. This diamond represents our hope for a better future as the resources of Sierra Leone fund growth, development and jobs.”
Tobias Korming, Managing Director of 77 Diamonds, Europe’s largest online diamond jeweller comments: “I hope we see much more of this integrity and vision in the global diamond industry… The sale of the Peace Diamond has been the most transparent process ever taken for a diamond sold from Sierra Leone and it will encourage artisanal diggers who discover diamonds in Sierra Leone to bring them to the government instead of being tempted to smuggle them. In this way, Sierra Leone is following Botswana’s example, using its precious resources for the good of hundreds of thousands of people.”
Too large to fit inside the HD scanning equipment used to evaluate diamonds, prior to the sale, its exact colour and clarity was unknown, although it appears to be yellow and there are visible transparent sections that indicate it is likely to yield several large diamonds.
Commenting on the purchase, Laurence Graff, chairman of Graff Diamonds said: “It is an honour to have acquired this magnificent rough diamond - and that its sale will directly benefit a country in desperate need. It is always special to be able to give back to the places that provide us with these beautiful stones.
Who knows the story that the Peace Diamond will tell in years to come. At this moment, the story of this diamond marks an important chapter for the people of Sierra Leone.”
Martin Rapaport, chairman of the Rapaport Group says: “Its beauty is its role as a peace diamond. It is not just a 709-carat diamond, it is so much more than that. For the first time ever we are seeing the legitimisation of the distribution of artisanal diamonds from Sierra Leone. It’s one thing to have a beautiful D Flawless diamond, but what’s really special is that here we are talking about a diamond that is going to create food, electricity, clean water, education, roads and bridges... This is a diamond with spiritual sparkle.”
Updated by Maria Doulton on 5 December 2017