Sierre Leone sells 709-carat diamond for $6.5 million at auction

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The 14th largest diamond in the world, Sierra Leone "Peace Diamond" sold for $6,536,360 (USD) in NY on Monday.

Instead of like most diamond auctions, the value of the Peace Diamond was more in its potential social impact rather than its physical characteristics, according to the company handling the auction.

"Peace diamond" plays on the term "blood diamond", which were diamonds rebel groups sold during Sierra Leone's brutal civil war in the 1990s to buy arms and ammunition.

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Graff Diamonds won the auction from a field of 70 interested buyers and seven different bids.

"The color of this diamond is very uncertain".

The worldwide diamond trading network that handled the auction, the Rapaport Group, said the stone had gone to British billionaire and jeweler, Laurence Graff.

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Sierra Leone is one of the world's largest diamonds and its proceeds will be used for development projects in Sierra Leone. Named the Peace Diamond, $3.8 million of the proceeds will directly benefit 250,000 inhabitants of a region with no school, hospital, clean water, roads or electricity.

Officials said they also hoped the sale will help combat the West African country's illicit diamond trade.

An earlier bid of $7.8m was rejected by the government when the stone was initially auctioned in Freetown, after it said that the figure was too low. "It is always special to be able to give back to the places that provide us with these attractive stones".

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