Photo Credit: The Rapaport Group
A 709-carat rough diamond mined in Sierra Leone, larger than the size of an egg, will be sold at auction in New York on December 4 by the Rapaport Group. It is the third-largest diamond ever found in Sierra Leone and the 14th-largest discovered worldwide.
Named the Peace Diamond, more than 50 percent of the proceeds from its eventual sale have already been earmarked for infrastructure and social projects in Sierra Leone. They will fund clean water, electricity, schools, medical facilities, bridges, roads and more, with special attention being given to the remote village of Koyadu, where it was found.
The stone was discovered in March of this year by a Christian priest and part-time diamond digger, Pastor Emmanuel A. Momoh. The area in which he was prospecting is the Kono District, which in the late 1990s and early 2000s was the epicenter of the conflict diamond crisis, when local residents, some of whom were children, were forced at gunpoint by rebel groups to dig in the alluvial fields, and the proceeds of their hard labor were taken and smuggled out the country.
The massive transformation of the rough diamond business since, which began in in 2003 with the launch of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, is not lost on the organizers of the Peace Diamond sale. “I believe in the positive energy of the Peace Diamond and the great good it will do for the people of Sierra Leone,” said Martin Rapaport, Chairman of the Rapaport Group. “The lucky buyers of the Peace Diamond and the resultant polished Peace Diamonds can take pride in knowing that they have created a better life for tens of thousands of people. This is a diamond that makes the world a better place. This is a diamond with spiritual sparkle.”
This is not the first time that the Peace Diamond has come up for sale. In May it failed to receive its undisclosed reserve price at a tender held in the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown. According to media agencies at the time, six bid documents were submitted, with the highest being worth $7.78 million. This was considerably below what its owners hoped would be achieved.
The largest stone ever to be discovered in Sierra Leone was the 969-carat Star of Sierra Leone, which was mined in 1972. It ranks as one of the five largest gem-quality diamonds and the largest alluvial diamond ever discovered. It produced 17 polished diamonds, of which 13 are flawless. The largest finished stone from the collection was a flawless pear-shaped diamond of 53.96 carats. Six of the diamonds cut from the original rough were set by Harry Winston into the “Star of Sierra Leone” brooch.
The 709-carat Peace Diamond, the 14th largest rough diamond ever discovered, scheduled to be auctioned in New York on Decemmber 4, 2017, by the Rapaport Group. (Photo Credit: The Rapaport Group)
A school destroyed during the civil conflict in Sierra Leone. Half the proceeds from the sale of the Peace Diamond are earmarked for economic and social projects in the once war-torn country. (Photo Credit: Laura Lartigue)