On Dec. 5, the much-touted Peace Diamond sold for $6.5 million via online auction, to a high-profile bidder but with a lower-than-expected price.
Auction mainstay Laurence Graff was the buyer for the 709 ct. stone, the 14th largest ever found.
A prior auction which took place in Sierra Leone garnered $7 million—a bid that was ultimately rejected. Martin Rapaport then took up the diamond’s cause, hoping to showcase the role a diamond can play in developing local communities.
In a video following the auction, Rapaport said the final total “is still a lot of money” to a poor country where locals don’t have water and basic provisions.
“This is money that will go directly to the people,” he said. “We will see real economic benefits….We are seeing an evolution of the diamond industry to [looking at] where are the diamonds coming from, what is happening to those people, how can we help them.”
He speculated the price may have decreased from the initial Sierra Leone offer after the Rapaport Corp. “cleaned” the diamond up to show it to the trade, and buyers could see how complex it was.
“Perhaps we are dealing with the price of transparency,” he said, adding, “I don’t know what that bid in Sierra Leone was, how serious, how capable….I”m sorry the price wasn’t higher. I prayed, I worked as hard as I could…We believe this is the best price possible from the marketplace.”
And he was particularly happy about the buyer.
“Laurence Graff usually don’t buy anything that’s not a D or E color,” he said. “But he has paid a lot of money because he believes it will hurt people in the poorest regions in the world. The fact that he would buy this, even though it’s not his normal thing, is a great sign.”
The Peace Diamond’s proceeds will be allocated as follows: 59 percent will be paid in taxes to the Government of Sierra Leone, 15 percent will go to the local Diamond Area Community Development Fund for infrastructure, and 26 percent will go to the artisanal diggers who found the diamond.
“It is an honor to have acquired this magnificent rough diamond—and that its sale will directly benefit a country in desperate need,” Graff said in a statement.
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