Priceless perfection: Argyle pink diamonds shine brightest in remote Western Australia desert
The Argyle Diamond Mine accounts for around 90 per cent of the world’s pink diamond supply and these stones command a high investment value
Not only do Argyle pink diamonds offer an intensity and range of colour that is unmatched by any other pink diamond, these diminutive diamonds, found in a remote desert landscape, are Australian treasures that command millions per carat.
The gemstone contains a miniature world, with hues that evoke its place of origin – the East Kimberley outback, more than 3,000km from Perth in Western Australia. The Argyle Diamond Mine accounts for around 90 per cent of the world’s pink diamond supply.
Of the approximately 130 million carats of rough diamonds produced in the world each year, less than 20,000ct are rough pink diamonds. The company’s “Tender” stones are one in a million, as for every
1 million carats of rough diamonds, only 1ct of polished stones are offered for sale.
They have more in common with rare, fine art than their colourless cousin, the white diamond, with a pink diamond 20 to 50 times more valuable. The gemstones’ complicated structure makes them harder to cut, and polishing can take three to four times longer than white diamonds, requiring highly skilled cutters who specialise only in Argyle pinks.
Just 0.1 per cent of the Argyle Diamond Mine’s production is pink – and a year’s worth of Argyle pink diamonds over half a carat would fit in the palm of your hand.
The best of these – in an offering of 63 precious finds from a year’s mine production, including 57 pink, four red and two violet diamonds, called the Chroma Collection – are on show in Hong Kong as part of Rio Tinto’s 2016 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender.
The annual invitation-only Tender started in 1984 and this year the five hero stones, in the tradition of naming the most spectacular examples, are Argyle Violet, a 2.83ct oval shaped violet diamond; Argyle Ultra, a 1.11ct pear shaped violet diamond; Argyle Viva, a 1.21ct pear shaped Vivid purple-pink diamond; Argyle Thea, a 2.24ct radiant cut Vivid purplish pink diamond; and Argyle Aria, a 1.09ct oval shaped Fancy Red diamond.
Rio Tinto energy and minerals chief executive Alan Davies said before the Tender global tour kicked off in Copenhagen: “The Chroma Collection is one of the finest we have ever seen across all rarity factors with an unprecedented spectrum of colour, size and clarity. We are already seeing strong global interest from established and emerging markets.”
The limited life of the Argyle Diamond Mine is also escalating desire for these tiny marvels, with the estimation of less than 500 tender quality specimens remaining to be discovered. An underground block cave mine is under development but it is still only likely to extend diamond production until 2018.
In diamonds, rarity leads, and while Argyle pink diamonds might be flukes of nature, the investment confidence in these specimens cannot be understated.
Prices of Argyle pink diamonds greater than 0.15ct have seen, on average, sustained double-digit growth for the past 12 years.
The price of one of the most concentrated forms of wealth on earth has risen steadily year-on-year, and Argyle pink diamonds continue to outperform major equity indices.
From the palest blush through soft rose to the deepest scarlet – colour grading is the key to their pricing, with Fancy Red the most desirable, of which only a sprinkling see the light of day. The largest ever Fancy Red Tender gem was the 1.56ct Argyle Phoenix which, in 2013, secured the highest per carat price for a diamond ever produced from the mine.
The mine operators, on principles of buyer confidentiality and security, do not favour revealing prices to the public, but media reports at the time wrote of a record US$2 million purchase by an international party.
While last year’s tender was notable for comprising four Fancy Reds (only 17 have ever been seen at the event), this year an enchanting violet discovery, the 2.83ct oval Argyle Violet, has been accruing admiration.
Violet and blue diamonds are rare, with the Argyle mine only sporadically yielding them (for every 25 million carats of rough diamonds unearthed from the mine, a single polished blue or violet tender stone is produced) and the Argyle Violet is the largest violet diamond ever recovered from the Argyle Diamond Mine – the only source of hydrogen-rich violet diamonds in the world, with uniquely potent cornflower hues. Blue and violet diamonds typically contain the presence of boron.
The distribution of the pink diamonds that are not sold through the Tender will be carefully managed.
An exclusive group of master craftsmen, known as select ateliers and authorised partners, ensure all initiatives are in support of the standards of care and chain of custody from discovery to jewellery store display case.
The 2016 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender will be showcased during viewings in Hong Kong, New York and Perth, with bids closing on October 12 . Hong Kong viewing – by invitation only – continues until Wednesday, September 21. For more information, go to www.argylepinkdiamonds.com.