AFP – Sierra Leone plans to auction off a massive 709-carat diamond at a December sale in New York, aiming to make a clean break with the “blood diamonds” of its past.
The stone, which was unearthed in March, is the largest discovered in Sierra Leone in almost a half-century and is between the 10th and 15th largest ever found worldwide, experts say. Sierra Leone authorities told reporters that the massive gem will go up for sale on December 4 at Rapaport Auctions, which specialises in the diamond trade.
The government has pledged to be transparent in the stone’s sale, mindful of the history of cross-border diamond trafficking that fuelled Sierra Leone’s civil war from 1991-2002.
Such “blood diamonds” were often found by enslaved members of the population, who were killed or maimed by rebel groups if they refused to dig.
The 709-carat behemoth was discovered by Emmanuel Momoh, an Evangelical pastor who is also one of hundreds of so-called artisanal miners in Kono, Sierra Leone’s key mining district.