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THE DOME HEIST: THE GEMS.

DE BEERS' diamond collection included the Millennium Star, two inches long and weighing 203 carats.

It was found by villagers in a dry river bed in Zaire in the early 1990s. Uncut, it weighed 777 carats - almost six ounces - and De Beers spent six months studying it before cutting it.

The firm's top mine in South Africa yields one significant blue stone a year. The collection included 11 of them, the largest the 27-carat Heart of Eternity.

Scotland Yard believe the gang had a deal to sell them - for just pounds 20million.

Det Chief Supt John Shatford said: "We think the diamonds were going to be sold to Russian crime bosses in Spain.

"The deal would probably have been for about 10 per cent of their value."

CAPTION(S):

STAR: The 203 carat diamond
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 19, 2002
Words:134
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