Sierra Leone auctions off "peace diamond" for US$6.5 million

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The much anticipated auction of Sierra Leone's "Peace Diamond" was conducted on Monday in New York, APA has learnt here in Freetown.The 709 carat precious stone was auctioned by the diamond firm, the Rapatrport Group for US$6.5 million in New York. "Laurence Graff paid more money because he believes this diamond is a special diamond because it's going to help the poorest people in the world", Martin Rapaport said in the release.

The gem was unearthed in March in Sierra Leone's eastern Kono region by a Christian pastor who gave it to the government to handle the sale.

The government said Monday it will use the $3.9 million in tax revenue from the sale to fund clean water, electricity, schools, health centers and roads.

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The egg-sized, 709-carat "Peace Diamond" is one of the largest ever discovered in Sierra Leone and between the 10th and 15th largest ever found.

The Peace Diamond is on display at the Rapaport Group on December 4, 2017 in midtown NY.

"It is an honor to have acquired this magnificent rough diamond - and that its sale will directly benefit a country in desperate need", Laurence Graff said in the Rapaport release. In many cases, groups used slave labor to mine the stones.

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According to the statement, the Sierra Leone government lost a little more than $500,000 after declining a bid of $7.08 million back in May.

Ernest Bai Koroma. The president of Sierra Leone praised Momoh "for not smuggling the diamond out of the country".

The Sierra Leone government rejected a bid of $7.8m at an earlier auction.

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