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Nation's biggest diamond unveiled
August 17, 2003

STUNNING and spiritual, Australia's largest diamond was today unveiled in Darwin.

The diamond
The uncut 104.73 carat gem / AAP Image
The $1 million, 104.73 carat white diamond has been given an indigenous name - in an Australian first - to preserve its link with its place of origin.

It has been called Jungiila Bunajina, which means star meteorite dreaming stone, by the Garrawa and Gurdanji clans.

The diamond was mined on sacred Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory in March 2002, at the trial Merlin diamond mine about 80km south of Borroloola.

The mine, which is now destined for closure, was the first to begin with the agreement of traditional owners under the Native Title Act.

Traditional owner Max Finlay said the stone was of great spiritual significance to the Aboriginal people, and had brought peace to the two tribes.

"The name Bunajina is a very strong name, it's a name that ties in ceremony between Gurdanji people and Garrawa people," Mr Finlay said.

"It's a very sacred area and no-one can go in there and muck with the area.

"The name itself was given because we feel that if we are sharing something with the world, this is the better way, to try and express our heart to the world.

"Our spirit will always be with that diamond, it's part of us and for as long as we practise our culture ... it will always be alive.

"... The name itself carries the two people."

Mine owner Argyle Diamonds will eventually send the diamond to the international diamond hub of Antwerp Belgium for evaluation and likely sale.

"We don't really know what's going to happen with the diamond," Mr Finlay said.

"If it's broken up into thousands of bits of diamond, it will still have that name, the spiritual name of it will still exist."

Argyle Diamonds managing director Brendan Hammond said the company had sought an Aboriginal name for the diamond, reflecting its positive relations with the traditional owners.

"The way that we look at traditional owners is that they are our land owners, they are our landlords and respect and recognition is absolutely paramount in terms of our relationship with them," he said.

*The rough diamond is on display in its only Australian showing, at the Museum and Art Gallery of the NT, until Sunday August 31.

AAP


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