709ct ‘peace diamond’ to help Sierra Leone’s poorest
Dakar, Sierra Leone will auction one of the worlds largest diamonds later this year. The intention is for the proceeds to fund development projects, in the community where the stone was discovered, the group managing the auction reported yesterday.
709ct peace diamond
The diamond is 709 ct, and has been named the ‘peace diamond’ due to the benefits its sale would have on the poor community. The impressive stone was found in the Eastern Kono region in March this year, by Christian Pastor Emmanuel Momoh. The pastor handed the stone to Sierra Leones government, in the hope that its sale could fund crucial development in the poverty stricken community.
The group managing the auction, Rapaport Group, is an international diamond trading network. The group plan to auction the gem for free, in the hope that it will set an example for other diamond sales to benefit the countries from where they are mined.
Chairperson of the group, Martin Rapaport, told Thomson Reuters foundation “This diamond is going to help the poorest people in the world. It stimulates the industry to think about what they’re selling.”
The hefty diamond, which has been described as ‘egg-sized’ went to auction in May, but the highest bid of $7.8-million was rejected. Sierra Leone expects the stone will fetch more at the next auction, which is set to go ahead this December, in New York.
Where will the proceeds go?
A statement from Rapaport group claims that over 50% of the proceeds will directly fund clean water, electricity, medical facilities, schools, bridges, and roads, in the village of Koryardu. The district in Sierra Leona is where the stone was discovered, and currently none of these basic facilities are available in the community.
This auction is a step in the right direction for the industry, particularly West Africa. Diamonds fuelled a decade long civil war in Sierra Leone, which ended in 2002. Rebels forced civilians to mine the stones and weapons were bought with the proceeds, which led to the term ‘blood diamonds.’ 2003 saw The United Nations lift the ban on diamond exports from Sierra Leone, but the industry is still plagued with issues such as smuggling.
It is a reassuring idea that the most impoverished communities could reap the benefits of locally sourced diamond sales. Watch this space to see the result of Decembers auction.
At Steven Stone, we ensure all of our suppliers adhere to the Kimberley Process, which joins governments, NGOs and the United Nations in preventing conflict diamonds from reaching mainstream markets.