Pastor Emmanuel Momoh tells the story of discovering the world’s 14th-largest diamond.
Negotiations began immediately when Komba John-Bull and his four coworkers arrived at Pastor Emmanuel Momoh’s home on that fateful night on March 13, 2017.
The team of diamond diggers was confident they had something significant and, as tradition dictated, were entitled to a dash — or stipend — from their financier, who owned the rights to the massive rock they’d found earlier that day. The dash would be an expression of confidence that he believed his workers were there to deliver some good news.
Sitting in his lounge, puzzled by their coy sense of excitement, the pastor eventually agreed to a price of 800,000 leone to persuade the men to disclose what they knew — or possessed. The equivalent of around $100 was a hefty fee, he thought, but this must be important if they’d found it necessary to come to his house unannounced.
While the men continued to playfully talk around the issue, the pastor’s suspicions were soon validated. John-Bull finally reached into his pocket, and with a smile that reflected the yellowish hue of the diamond he held, looked at the pastor and declared, “This is what God has blessed us with this afternoon.”
Momoh sat quietly as the men speculated on how big the stone was, their excitement rising with each carat they added.
“We thought maybe 200 or 300 carats, but at that point we weren’t even sure it was actually a diamond,” Momoh tells Rapaport Magazine.
Eventually he sent the men home so he could come up with a game plan. If it was a diamond weighing hundreds of carats, the discovery could have major ramifications not only for Momoh and his team, but for their village of Koryardu, the Kono district and Sierra Leone as a whole.
With that in mind, Momoh knew he had to involve Chief Paul Ngaba Saquee, head of the chiefdom where the diamond was found — and where the diggers lived — to ensure the diamond would go through the right channels on its way to the market.
But first, Momoh had to ascertain that it was indeed a diamond and exactly how many carats it contained.
For that, the pastor went to one of the largest dealers in the Kono diamond district, whose name will remain anonymous for this story. When the dealer put the stone on the scale, it weighed in at 706 carats — though it was later confirmed at 709 carats, ranking as the 14th-largest rough diamond ever recovered and the third-largest from Sierra Leone.
That’s where Momoh’s next round of negotiations started.
The dealer saw the size of the stone and expected to buy it, though he didn’t offer a price, the pastor recalls. Still, Momoh withstood the pressure to sell it then and there; his only thought was to involve Saquee, who could give him the best guidance about the sale. Besides, Momoh continues, dealers in Kono are known to give rock-bottom prices for the diamonds they buy from diggers.
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