Sierra Leone ‘Peace Diamond’ sold for less-than-expected

Still, the egg-sized, 709-carat rock fetched $6.5 million

Sierra Leone has sold one of the world's largest diamonds ever found at an auction in New York on Monday, fetching a lower-than-expected price of $6.5 million

The egg-sized, 709-carat rough "Peace Diamond" is one of the largest ever discovered in the West African country and one of the world’s 20 biggest rough precious rocks ever found.

The egg-sized diamond was found in March in the country's eastern Kono region by a Christian pastor who gave it to the government.

The yellowish diamond is also one of the largest found in recent years at mines in southern Africa, closely behind Lucara Diamond’s (TSX:LUC) 1,111-carat rock discovered in Botswana in 2015.

It was sold to luxury jeweller Laurence Graff, chairman of Graff Diamonds, a British multinational jeweller based in London, said international diamond trading network Rapaport Group, which marketed and auctioned the stone for free.

As promised by the pastor who found the diamond and later donated it to Sierra Leone’s government, half of the proceeds from the auction will be used to fund infrastructure projects to benefit the community of the small village where it was discovered.

The country’s government will receive about $3.9 million of the final selling price as taxes, Rapaport said. Another $980,454 will enter a community development fund, while about $1 million will go to local diggers in the West African nation’s Kono district.

This is not the first “Peace Diamond” is put up for sale. A $7.8 million bid was turned down by the government of Sierra Leone in May. Two months later, authorities announced they would try selling it again.

Between 1991 and 2002, the Kono district — where the Peace Diamond was found — was at the centre of the “blood diamond” trade that funded the country’s brutal civil war as rebel groups exchanged gems for weapons.

Sierra Leone ‘Peace Diamond’ sold for less-than-expected

Emmanuel Momoh, a 39-year-old pastor who is also one of hundreds of so-called artisanal miners in Kono, Sierra Leone’s key mining district, found this diamond — the second-largest ever found in the West African nation. (Image courtesy of National Minerals Agency of Sierra Leone.)