A Christian pastor in Sierra Leone's Kono district has discovered a massive 706-carat diamond. The diamond is the 13th largest diamond ever to be found, Rough and Polished diamond analyst Mathew Nyaungwa told BBC News Thursday. Pastor Emmanuel Momoh's discovery, estimated to be roughly the size of a hockey puck, was transported to President Ernest Bai Koroma Wednesday night before being locked away at Central Bank in Freetown.
President Koroma expressed gratitude that the diamond was not smuggled out of the country, according to a government news release. He also "underscored the importance of selling such a diamond here" and vowed to give the owner their "due" during what he assured would be a transparent sales process to the highest bidder.
Momoh's diamond, which hasn't been formally valued just yet, is reportedly the largest diamond found in Sierra Leone in 45 years. Back in 1972, a 969-carat Star of Sierra Leone was found in the region. Though Sierra Leone is known for its industry surrounding diamond mining, BBC News notes the history of that industry is highly controversial.
In May of last year, Lucara Diamond announced the sale of an 813-carat diamond recovered from the Karowe mine in Botswana for a record-setting $63 million. "We are very pleased with the result from the sale of this magnificent 813 carat diamond as well as the opportunity to further participate in profits earned when the polished product is sold," William Lambe, Lucara CEO, said at the time. "The sale of the 813 carat diamond is the highest price ever achieved for a rough diamond, breaking all records. This achievement solidifies our reputation in the jewelry industry as one of the most important sources of diamonds of the very highest quality."