Royal gift or ‘stolen’ gem? Calls for UK to return 500 carat Great Star of Africa diamond
The diamond and its presumed origins
Calls for UK to repatriate 500 carat diamond
An iconic blue stone called the ‘Great Star of Africa’, found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, weighs 500 carats, or 6.8 grams. According to its discoverer, its origins are yet to be cleared up.
The star, with its bright blue colour, could be a diamond, but the world gemstone trade has ruled out that possibility.
When the star was found in 1964, just a few yards from the famous Kimberley Process diamond mines, a British diamond expert dubbed it a’stolen diamond’, according to an account of its discovery by John Le Carre.
But if the world gem trade were to have confirmed that fact, then the world’s gem trade would be banned altogether.
In 2012, a committee of the Kimberley Process endorsed it as being an ‘indisputable’ diamond and one of the most famous of all known blue, or white, diamonds.
Great Star of Africa (Image: © Bébé Pierre)
But the diamond trade has claimed the star was a counterfeit and ordered the British government to return it, citing a ‘lack of clarity on the origin’ of the stone.
Now, the Royal Society, which represents Britain’s academic and museum scientists in a global network, has taken the diamond’s discoverer to task.
Dr James Gathany is a scientist emeritus at the Natural History Museum, London, and an emeritus fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge.
It calls for the UK government to return the star to the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
The society says that it is the gem’s provenance that should have been made clear, and it wants the star’s true origins to be known by all involved parties.
And a report by the society says the star’s diamond industry “is of limited value to the world economy” in