A 709 carat diamond that was discovered by a group of Sierra Leone miners earlier this year is to be sold in New York at an auction today.
It is the 14th largest diamond ever found in the world and also the biggest diamond to be found in Sierra Leone since 1972.
The precious stone was discovered by Emmanuel Momoh, a Christian pastor in the eastern Kono district.
He chose to hand it over to the government instead of selling it to smugglers or middlemen.
Mr Momoh told the BBC’s Newday programme that selling the diamond to middlemen would not have “benefited the community”.
We lack a lot of things. We don’t have a good road network, we don’t have better schools, or drinking water. ”
The sale of the diamond is being handled by Rapaport Group which has waived all charges.
The group’s chairman Martin Rapaport told Newsday that the diamond was “fascinating”:
“Inside this diamond there are many other diamonds. All experts that see it see different things inside of it.”
He said that all the money accrued from the sale will go to Sierra Leone and that the funds will be used to help the community where it was mined.
He added that this will bring about a “sea change in the relationship between artisanal miners and the government” if the community is seen to benefit from the diamond.
“It will encourage others to work with the government”, he added.