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The Bewildering 709 ct. Peace Diamond Found by a Simple Village Pastor in Sierra Leone, Sells for Nearly 7 Million Dollars.

This is the story of one man's quest to push back against the reigns of poverty, the honest way. At 39 years old, soft-spoken pastor Emmanuel Momoh lived life in constant struggle, always aiming to make ends meet for his family in Sierra Leone's harsh communities. The area, famous for its production of high quality diamonds, was also equally known for being a place of hardship and civil unrest.

In 2012, Momoh had applied for a license to conduct artisanal mining in the diamond-laden fields of the nation's easter region. This was not a common practice, as many villagers knew of the potential hidden deep within the ground.

Momoh's team and projects were not immune to the realities of Sierra Leone. They somehow managed to live through the dangerous conflicts often caused by the smuggling of gemstones by rebels, in order to acquire additional weaponry for their skirmishes. Blood diamonds, were coined after happenings that took place in this country. Though that didn't stop the locals from trying to leverage their natural resources to benefit themselves and their families either.

During March of 2017, he was already considering calling it quits. It was hard enough feeding and caring for his family, but as Momoh's responsibilities extended to his tiny workforce as well, bills were piling up for the pastor. Then, on the evening of March 13, four of Momoh's workers confronted him at his residence. The lead worker, told Momoh that something incredible has happened, but demanded the payment of 800,000 leones (or about a hundred US dollars) before he would talk. Momoh scrambled up the cash and discovered what his employee had been talking about. Their team had unearthed a large, rough diamond that was bigger than any of them had expected to see in their lifetimes.

Soon after that, Momoh travelled to a diamond dealer in Kono, many miles east of Freetown; Sierra Leone's capital. This trip had one purpose, for Momoh had recently acquired something of immense value, more than enough for unsavory characters to try and take away in a flash. Doors swung open, as Momoh laid the 709 carat rough diamond across the counter table. It was about the size of a standard egg, but enough to cause shock and awe to the dealer straight away. This talk ended swiftly with an offer and a request. Momoh was advised not to hand the stone over to the government for selling, but instead to illegally smuggle the stone out of Sierra Leone and onto the world's black market diamond trade.

It was almost impossible to get that dealer to let go of the diamond, as he persistently pushed for Momoh to let him sell the stone through illegal channels. He was not the first to advise this. Even Momoh's friends said that this method may be better- and less of a risk. The diamond after all, could be worth a lot to thieves and murderers as well, so keeping it at home would bring danger to the pastor's loved ones.

Now to many who have lived their lives in the dusty outcrops of Sierra Leonne, this would have been the option most favorably considered, but Momoh decided that maybe the government could use what they get from the diamond to better the conditions of living in his country. He came from Koryadu village, which had no running water or electricity. His family was waiting for him back home as well. So as he pondered on the decision, the suffering of his community came to mind quite often.

This diamond, which was later sold at a New York City auction for over 6 million dollars, was named "The Peace Diamond", which represented the pastor's hope for a better Sierra Leone, unmarked by constant conflict and strife.

He was able to watch as almost a hundred wealthy buyers came to gawk and stare at the large rough gemstone. In his heart, it was more than just a sparkly object to wear one's person. It represented hope for something beyond what his life had come accept as normality in Sierra Leone.

Lawrence Graff, who had been involved with several diamond auction-buys, purchased the stone for its final amount, but did not offer as much as another party who wanted to purchase it earlier in the year- for 7.7 million dollars during a local public auction. The government decided to push through with the transaction, because Graff was a high profile personality who had previously been involved with the global concern for using diamond as a means for improving social welfare. He was an advocate of idealism in the trade, and wanted a better future for the primary members of the diamond trade; the artisanal miners who uncover the gemstones themselves.

The sale was conducted through Rapaport, who also believed in the abolishment of conflict-diamonds, in favor of free trade across the entire industry. The Sierra Leone government got 59% of the paid amount for the Peace Diamond, which they would use to fund public infrastructures and other welfare projects for the benefit of local citizens. It should also be noted that a quarter of the amount was also set to be divided among the laborers who discovered the stone in the first place, so that they could use the money to improve their lives and the lives of their families.
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