Is it good timing -- or just good PR? At a time when the diamond industry is getting some of the worst press in its history -- recent reports claim that an asset-frozen Al Qaeda has used diamonds as currency, and damning DiCaprio starrer Blood Diamond hits theaters December 15 -- DeBeers & friends were ready for a little feel-good news: one of the largest diamonds ever discovered (the golf-ball sized Lesotho Promise, unearthed August 22) has been sold to a South African company for $12.4 million. For all the trouble they cause, people never fail to ooh and ahh when it comes to shiny rocks.
- It's the fifteenth-largest diamond ever discovered, a 603-ct white gem, weighing 4.2 oz.
- Lesotho, the tiny African nation where it was mined, is notorious for its child labor practices, and has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world: 29%.
- The world's largest diamond was unearthed in 1905: the Cullinan I, weighing in at 3,106 carats. It's colloquially known by a more elegant name, "Great Star of Africa," which, it rather goes without saying, resides in Europe as part of Britain's Crown Jewels.