Diamonds: Of heart and blood

“7.7 million US dollar bid, for Sierra Leone 709-carat diamond, fails.”

“Oklahoma woman finds 2.65-carat diamond at Arkansas Park.”

Two news headlines, within 24 hours, of each other, featured diamonds of vastly different carat values. And they drew international attention for interesting reasons.

But, first, let me tell you about the second.

Victoria Brodski, 25, travelled to the Mufreesboro diamond park in the US State of Arkansas, on Saturday 6 May, for a birthday celebration with her family. And moments after entering, she picked up what she thought was a pretty piece of glass.

It turned out to be a diamond.

But what I found shocking, in the news, is something else.

According to Mufreesboro’s ‘Crater of Diamonds State Park’ website, more than 75,000 diamonds have been discovered by people at the same park since 1906!

And finders are keepers!

Following the park’s tradition of naming the finds, Victoria Brodski named her gem the ‘Michelangelo Diamond’. After one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

So, isn’t it better for us to go diamond hunting there, than to go busting our backs here for a few dinars more? If you wish to join me, do let me know.  

And don’t forget to bring a list of names for prospective finds. But exclude Leonardo, Raphael and Donatello. I have already shortlisted them for my finds.

Anyway, secondly, let us go back, to the first -- to the news headline which we can focus upon.

A diamond found in Sierra Leone last month, the size of a hen’s egg, was auctioned at Freetown, Sierra Leone, on Thursday 11 May 2017.

The bid went up to 7.7 million, but it didn’t meet the government’s target price. And the bid failed.

In case you missed, the finding of this second largest diamond (709-carat) in this West African nation is itself a fascinating piece of news.

Emmanuel Momoh, a pastor of a church, found this diamond while his men were digging in the mining sector of eastern Kono in Sierra Leone.

Then he, well, as a good Christian, handed over the diamond to the country’s President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. The president thanked the pastor for not smuggling the diamond out of the country and for allowing the government to sell the historical stone in a set bidding process.

This is the second largest diamond found in Sierra Leone – the first was the 1972 Star of Sierra Leone (968.9-carat) – and it is also among the largest 20 diamonds ever found.

Now, the diamond will be auctioned again in Belgium to get the best price. But the government is not disclosing its reserve price.

I heard the pastor on BBC radio saying that he has complete confidence in his government that it would get him the best price. And according to some news reports, he plans to build a large church, a bridge and a school from the money he expects to receive from the sale.

Some five years ago, I had watched the movie ‘Blood Diamond’ set in the same country Sierra Leone. And I was very disturbed to learn how diamond trade in these war zones works. And how child soldiers are inducted and indoctrinated.

The evil nexus of underworld gunrunners, military leaders and corrupt governments was very well portrayed in the movie.

Which is why, now, it is heartening to see the people-government trust in a country ravaged by civil wars, revolutionary killings, and even the deadly virus Ebola.

It won’t be a bad idea, I think, to change plans - from going to that diamond park in Arkansas State of USA and go to the mining sector of eastern Kono in Sierra Leone.

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