The government of Sierra Leone has sold a 709-carat rough diamond, named the "peace diamond", at an auction in NY on Monday, fetching a lower-than-expected price of $6.5 million.
It was bought by British luxury jeweller Laurence Graff, said Martin Rapaport, chairman of Rapaport Group, a network of diamond companies that managed the auction.
The "Peace Diamond", which is also referred to unofficially as "divine diamond", because it is owned by a pastor, was discovered in the eastern Kono District of Sierra Leone earlier this year.
The Rapaport Group reports in a news release that it sold the 709-carat Peace Diamond for the government free of charge. Rapaport says that the sale of this diamond will provide "lifesaving infrastructure" to the village that has no water, electricity, roads, health or education service.
Sierra Leone is one of the world's largest diamonds and its proceeds will be used for development projects in Sierra Leone.
"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.
The UN enacted a ban on all diamond exports from the country until 2003, but illicit smuggling continues to mark the modern diamond trade.
The Sierra Leone government rejected a bid of $7.8m at an earlier auction.
The government had expected the stone, the first ever to be sold at a public auction, to fetch $7 million.
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