A new era for Sierra Leone?
The so named ‘Peace Diamond’ of Sierra Leone has successfully been sold at auction for $6.5m, hopefully marking a new era for the West African country.
A country plagued in previous years by the trade of blood diamonds and civil war, the sale of the Peace Diamond looks to be a positive change for the people of Sierra Leone, and one that can be celebrated in the sector.
The 709 carat diamond is one of the largest ever found and was discovered by a Christian pastor in the eastern Kono region. Passed to the government, the proceeds from the sale of the Peace Diamond will fund local development projects, including improvements to infrastructure, schools, clean water and electricity.
The auction was held at no cost by the Rapaport Group who supports the transparent and efficient sale of diamonds. They commented, “One hundred percent of the value of this diamond, of the auction sale of this diamond, is going to go to the government and the people of Sierra Leone. Never before has this happened”
Whilst the government were potentially hoping to raise more from the sale of the Peace Diamond (they had previously rejected an offer of $7.8m in May), the $6.5m will hugely benefit the local community, bringing better schooling to the young and far better infrastructure to power the country forward.
The head of Sierra Leone's eastern Kono district Chief Paul Ngaba Saquee noted, "It will encourage all the diggers back home. Instead of being ripped off in some dark corners when they find their diamonds, that they will bring it and put it on the table in front of the government, maybe this is going to be the beginning of a new day in Sierra Leone."
The winning bid was placed by Laurence Graff of Graff Diamonds, one of the most prestigious diamond jewellers in the world.
Rapport described how Graff would generally not have purchased the Peace Diamond due to its uncertain colour, however he was spurned on to make the purchase in order to help a large number of deprived people. They commented, “when you get someone like Graff interested in the social benefits, in the social responsibility, you’re opening a new world of diamond demand — demand for diamonds that make the world a better place.”
With the auction drawing in over 70 interested parties, 7 bids and a huge amount of discussion around the ethics of diamond trading – we can hope that this really is the beginning of a peaceful and prosperous future for Sierra Leone.