Sierra Leone pastor finds 709-carat diamond

Within the mines of eastern Sierra Leone, a pastor found quite a treasure: a diamond that could be one of the largest ever discovered. It weighed in at 709 karats, making it the second-heaviest and largest diamond ever found in the country.

Momah told The Associated Press that he turned the diamond in, rather than smuggling it, because "I believe the government can do more, especially at a time when the country is undergoing some economic challenges".

Jeweler De Beers controlled the country's diamond trade starting in 1935, but once other countries caught on to how rich in diamonds Sierra Leone was, illegal smuggling out of the country began.

What would you do if you were in Pastor Momoh's shoes?

The Sierra Leonean government, with the support of several western governments and global agencies, has continued to clamp down on the trade of "Blood Diamonds", the worldwide trafficking of diamonds by local guerrilla fighters and foreign collaborators who use brutal slave labor.

The precious stone, one of the world's largest, is said to weigh 706 carats.

It is now being stored in the central bank, according to government sources.

However, a government official in a statement on Thursday, March 16, said that the diamond will be sold with a "transparent" bidding process to the benefit of the community and country.

The government of Sierra Leone thinks that one of its citizens is a real gem.

It is ranked the third largest diamond ever found in the West African country. That civil war left an estimated 120,000 dead.

The world's most expensive diamond, found in Bostwana, was 813 carats and sold for $63 million a year ago. Sierra Leone's gross national income per capita stood at $620 in 2015, according to World Bank data.

  • Essie Rivera