Rare large white diamond found at Western Australia’s Argyle mine

White diamond

One of the largest white diamonds ever produced by the Argyle mine in the east Kimberley region of WA may be one of the final significant finds of Australia’s most famous diamond mine.

Key points:

  • The Argyle diamond mine is scheduled to close down in 2020
  • But that hasn’t stop it producing one of its biggest diamonds ever
  • The 28.84 carat stone will now be sent to Belgium where it would be sold

The octahedral-shaped 28.84-carat stone, named Argyle Octavia, was discovered in March.

“We don’t see many this shape, or colour, or that clarity, generally out of the mine,” Argyle general manager of operations Andrew Wilson said.

“We’ve probably seen 20 of those in the last 36 years of operations, of the plus-20-carat size.

Mr Wilson said it was rare for a stone this size to even survive the mining process intact.

“To find one that gets all the way through our crushers, and all the way through the sorting process, out to where we retrieve it … it’s quite unusual for it to be able to come out a fully formed diamond,” he said.

The last hurrah for Argyle

Diamonds may be forever, but diamond mines are not, and with the Argyle mine due to shut down in 2020, this could be the last major diamond it produces.

“There’s a real buzz; there’s a lot of people on site who work really hard to be able to find these diamonds, and to have discovered this one is a real thrill for everyone,” Mr Wilson said.

A tender process will now begin, with the stone to be whisked away to the world’s diamond trade capital of Antwerp in Belgium.

The company was unwilling to attach a value to the stone ahead of the tender process.

“It will go to Antwerp, and through our auction process, and the market will determine its value,” Mr Wilson said, adding that the diamond would be sold as a rough stone.

“Let’s hope there’s somebody who’s got a passion for West Australian Argyle diamonds … hopefully we have that opportunity to see it on a beautiful piece of jewellery.”

Colored Diamonds Expected to Shine in 2019

Colored diamonds, which have natural pink, blue, yellow, and other brilliant hues, will continue to be closely sought-after by collectors and investors in 2019, according to Russian diamond group Alrosa.

“Colored diamonds appreciate even in turbulent times against the backdrop of instability of the world economy,” says Yuri Okoyemov, vice president at Alrosa, the world’s largest diamond mining company by volume. “We expect fancy diamonds to become ever more popular investments in the near future.”

Alrosa auctions colored diamonds twice a year. Last September, its “True Colours” auction in Hong Kong sold a total of US$9 million worth of colored diamonds.

Tracked by Knight Frank as one of 10 luxury investment assets along with jewelry in general, art, wine, watches, and cars,  the value of colored diamonds has appreciated 70% in the last decade, or about 12% every year, according to The 2018 Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index.

During the third quarter last year, the last period for which data is available, overall fancy color diamond prices grew 0.4% from the year before, according to the Fancy Color Research Foundation, an Israel-based diamond market information provider. Fancy vivid blue diamonds continued to outperform other kinds, rising 8.5% during the same period of time. 

While all fancy pink diamonds gained only 0.5% in value in the third quarter of 2018, their valuations will likely grow faster in the coming years due to an expected shortage of supply, according to Okoyemov.

The Argyle Diamond Mine in Australia, a source of over 90% of pink diamonds in the world, is set to close by 2020.

Rare fancy pink diamonds have also set records at auction in recent years.

Last November, a 18.96-carat rectangular fancy vivid pink diamond, The Pink Legacy, fetched US$50.4 million at Christie’s Geneva, setting a  record price per carat for a pink diamond sold at auction, at US$2.6 million. 

In 2017, The Pink Star, a 59.60-carat fancy vivid pink diamond fetched US$71.2 million at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong. It retained the title of most expensive pink diamond in the world. 

Also in 2017, Christie’s Hong Kong sold The Pink Promise, an oval-shaped, 14.93-carat fancy vivid pink diamond, for US$32.5 million, or US$2.2 million per carat.

Yellow diamonds saw their overall value rise 1.6% in the third quarter of 2018, according to the Fancy Color Research Foundation. 

Only one in every 10,000 gem-quality diamonds has natural color. Depending on the intensity of the colors, colored diamonds can be even more valuable than white (or colorless) diamonds, which are considered to be of the highest quality.  

5.03-Carat Pink Diamond Tops Bonhams

Bonhams has summarized its top selling jewelry for 2018, reporting that a 5.03-carat square-cut fancy pink diamond of VS1 clarity was its top seller of the year. According to Bonhams, quoted by Gem Konnect, the stone was sold in London on September 26 for $2,935,263. The $583,551 per carat achieved from the sale set a new per carat auction world record for a fancy pink diamond.

Other top performing lots includes a step-cut 24.31-carat D-IF Type IIa diamond set in a ring, sold for $1,947,110; a Colombian emerald pendant/necklace by Hennell weighing 12.13 carats, sold for $1,381,820; and a 1930 Colombian art deco emerald and diamond necklace/bracelet, sold for $1,092,894.

Bonhams Global Director of Jewellery Jean Ghika said that the market “has remained strong for exceptional pieces of jewellery from famed eras and world class makers” and that the auction house also achieved excellent prices for emeralds this year. She added that good-sized Fancy coloured diamonds with intense colour saturations “performed extremely well”, as did white diamonds, especially those over 10 carats.

Rio’s Argyle pink diamonds tender breaks record

Rio Tinto announced today that it delivered record results at its 2018 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, which included 63 rare pink, red and violet diamonds from its Argyle Mine in Australia.

The mine is the biggest diamond operation Down Under, and the source of rare and prized fancy pink gems. Argyle has been active since 1983, first as an open pit mine and then from 2013 as an underground operation, producing more than 95% of Australia’s diamonds. The mine, however, is set to close in 2020.

The most recent results, Rio says, are a reflection of Argyle approaching the end of its mine life because the supply of such extremely rare diamonds is becoming  scarcer.

When it comes to value, the 2018 collection of the finest pink, red and violet diamonds from the iconic Western Australian mine continued its trajectory of double-digit price growth. Sold to an undisclosed buyer, Lot Number 1, the Argyle Muse, a 2.28-carat fancy purplish red diamond was the most valuable diamond in the Tender’s 34-year history.

Lot 2, the 3.14-carat Argyle Alpha, was won by Singapore-based Argyle Pink Diamonds partner Glajz THG and, being the largest and most valuable vivid pink diamond in the history of the Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, it also broke a price record.

Over the past 18 years, the value of Argyle pink diamonds sold at Tender has appreciated over 400%, outperforming all major equity markets. “The 2018 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender was highly sought after with record results that underscore the value of these gems in the history of rare coloured diamonds,” said Rio Tinto’s Copper & Diamonds Chief Executive, Arnaud Soirat, in a media statement.

Diamond price forecasts add a rosy tint to mine closures

Miner Rio Tinto unveiled the largest pink diamond from its Argyle mine in Western Australia this summer. The 3.14 carat “Argyle Alpha”, found in 2015, is part of a package of 63 brightly coloured red and violet diamonds shown to potential buyers in Hong Kong this month.

The stones are becoming ever more scarce as the mine, which upended the heavily controlled diamond market when it opened in 1983, is set to come to the end of its life in 2020.  The closure marks a turning point for the diamond market as there are few comparable replacements in the pipeline. Analysts expect the supply of diamonds to peak within the next 10 years, as demand continues to grow.  “

Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine is the world’s only source of these highly coveted pink, red and violet diamonds and we expect considerable interest in this year’s collection,” Jean-Sébastien Jacques, Rio Tinto’s chief executive, said in a statement.  You’re seeing the real significant depletion of the very economic mines Paul Zimnisky, Diamond Analytics He added that the constrained supply will “support significant value appreciation for Argyle pink diamonds”.

The tender will travel to New York next month, with bids closing on October 10. Prices for high-quality pink stones have outperformed those of other diamonds over the past decade because of their rarity, according to Paul Zimnisky of Diamond Analytics in New York. He estimates pink stones account for less than 0.01 per cent of the world’s diamonds by volume — the Argyle mine produces close to 90 per cent of these.

Rio Tinto unveils Argyle’s largest Fancy Purplish Red diamond

Rio Tinto has revealed its 2018 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender in New York, including the Argyle Muse, the largest purplish red diamond ever offered.

The Argyle Muse, a 2.28-carat oval shaped Fancy Purplish Red gem, is one of 63 diamonds weighing a total of 51.48 carats being tendered at the event.

Argyle in Western Australia is the world’s only consistent source of rare pink, red and violet diamonds.

The 2018 tender is named Magnificent Argyle in honour of the mine’s role in charting the history of the world’s most coveted diamonds.

Rio Tinto copper and diamonds chief executive Arnaud Soirat said New York was the epicentre for rare fancy coloured diamond collectors and a key market for gems from Argyle.

“This is our 34th Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender and the potency of colours in this collection is a testament to the extraordinary Argyle ore body – rare fancy coloured diamonds, created and limited by nature.” Soirat said.

“The combination of strong demand and extremely limited world supply continues to support significant value appreciation for these stunning diamonds.”

The tender includes five Fancy Red diamonds, two Purplish Red diamonds and three Violet diamonds.

It includes six hero diamonds, which Rio Tinto selected for their unique beauty and were named to ensure a permanent record of their contribution to the history of Argyle’s diamonds.

What colour is the most expensive diamond in the world?

In the world of fancy colour diamonds, red, blue, pink and yellow are preferred choices for investment, while green, purple, violet and orange are colours for collectors

Cut is the attribute that most affects a diamond’s beauty, but colour is the second. The most intensely coloured diamonds are in a class of their own. Known as fancy colour diamonds, they are appreciated for the presence of colour rather than its absence, as is the case for white or colourless diamonds.

Green is increasingly popular among fancy colour diamonds, while colourlessness is the most desirable white diamond.

The Gemological Institute of America identifies 27 hues, and awards stones with the grade of fancy light, fancy, fancy intense, fancy deep, fancy vivid or fancy dark. These denote the tone and saturation of a colour diamond.

Fancy vivid tends to be the most desirable, and is an ideal investment stone.

The other three Cs remain important. Clarity, cut and carat weight all affect value, but to a lesser extent than colour in fancy colour diamonds.

Demand for pink

The Argyle mines, the main producers of quality fancy pinks, face exhaustion and are set to close by 2020. Demand and prices are expected to surge once the supply is cut off.

Rio Tinto, which runs the Argyle mine, saw prices of its annual diamond tender triple from 2000 to 2015, increasing by an average of 15 per cent per year and reaching more than US$1 million per carat.

Last April, the record for the most expensive diamond sold at auction was set by the Pink Star, a 59.6ct internally flawless vivid pink. It was bought by Hong Kong jewellery retailer Chow Tai Fook for US$71.2 million and renamed the CTF Pink.

Rio Tinto’s tender this year is open for bidding, and includes a 3.14ct emerald-cut fancy vivid purplish pink christened the Argyle Alpha. It is the largest pink diamond in the tender’s 34-year history.

Investment or collector’s item?

According to the Diamond Investment & Intelligence Centre, red, blue, pink and yellow are colours for investment, whereas green, purple, violet and orange are colours for collectors. Although all fancy coloured diamonds are rare, that alone does not make them a good investment.

Green diamonds are rarer than blue ones, and second only to red diamonds. But finding a buyer may be more difficult, as demand is lower and potential buyers may not be willing to pay as much for a green diamond.

Growing appetite for green

Some investors are revisiting the idea of green being more of a collector’s colour. Lower prices for green diamonds may give a chance to buy low and sell high.

The price of greens has been rising. In 2014, the sale of the 5.51ct fancy deep blue-green Ocean Dream by Christie’s fetched US$1.56 million per carat. Most recently, Chow Tai Fook bought the 5.03ct Aurora Green for US$3.3 million per carat at Christie’s in 2016.

Five carat fancy pink diamond could fetch £800,000 at auction

Only one in 10,000 gem quality diamonds produced in the world are pink, with the majority falling under 2ct in size.

An exceedingly rare fine fancy pink diamond weighing 5.03ct will headline Bonhams London Fine Jewellery sale on 26 September.

The diamond, which has VS1 clarity, is estimated worth between £600,000-800,000. According to Bonhams unlike all other coloured diamonds, the gem’s colour is caused not by trace elements in their chemical composition but by a “lucky miracle of nature”, a distortion within their atomic lattice caused by the pressure exerted on them during their formation.

Emily Barber, director of jewellery at Bonhams UK, said: “This pink diamond, offered at auction for the first time, possesses an exceptional combination of characteristics. It is extremely unusual to find a pure pink diamond, of even saturation, with no secondary component colours, weighing over 5.00 carats.

“This diamond’s significant size and elegant, unmodified square cut, coupled with its high clarity grade distinguishes it further. It is of extraordinary beauty.”

Rio Tinto to rehabilitate Argyle diamond mine beyond 2020

Rio Tinto has said it will commit hundreds of millions of dollars over decades to rehabilitate its Argyle diamond mine in the Kimberley region in Western Australia, following its scheduled closure in early 2020.

Rio Tinto chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said the company was talking with traditional owners, the local community, its workers and the state government in its plans of rehabilitating the site. The company was also undertaking a feasibility study into the mine closure.

Jacques said the company planned to reassign some of Argyle’s 450 workers to the company’s iron ore operations in the Pilbara, while some others might be involved in the company’s rehabilitation.

“It could take maybe two decades before the site is rehabilitated. There could still be lots of employment, especially for local communities for an extended period of time,” Jacques said.

“Maybe they don’t always have the right skill set at this point in time, but we will work with them very closely in order to make sure that we create sustainable jobs for the coming decades.”

Last month, Perth-based leading mining contractor NRW Holdings confirmed that it was awarded a $7 million contract for a trial mine rehabilitation project at Argyle.

Speaking at Rio’s annual diamond tender, when the largest vivid pink diamond in 34 years of its history was unveiled, Jacques closed any possibility of continuing operations at the mine after its closure.

“We still have two or three years of production from an economic standpoint and then that is it,” Jacques said.

The company said that it was devoting funds to a global search for “the next Argyle”.

The Argyle mine has been operating since 1983 and has produced more than 800 million carats of rough diamonds. It is one of the world’s largest supplier of diamonds and the world’s largest supplier of natural coloured diamonds.

Rare Blue Diamonds May be Earth’s Deepest Secret

The Hope Diamond, a rare blue diamond that is one of the world’s most famous jewels, has had a complicated history, passing through the hands of monarchs and bankers and heiresses and thieves before landing for all to see at a Washington museum.

The geological history of blue diamonds is even more complex, according to research published on Wednesday examining these exceptionally scarce and valuable gems.

Scientists analyzed 46 blue diamonds, including one from South Africa that sold for $25 million in 2016, and determined that they can form at depths of at least 410 miles (660 km), reaching into a part of the Earth’s interior called the lower mantle. Tiny mineral fragments trapped inside them provided clues about the birthplace of the diamonds.

Blue diamonds comprise only about 0.02 percent of mined diamonds but include some of the world’s most famous jewels.

Diamonds are a crystalline form of pure carbon, forming under enormous heat and pressure. Blue diamonds crystallize alongside water-bearing minerals that long ago were part of the seafloor but were shoved to great depths during the inexorable movement of the immense tectonic plates that shape Earth’s surface, the researchers said.

Scientists already knew these diamonds acquired their blue hue from the element boron. This study indicated this boron once had been in ocean water and was incorporated into the seafloor rock that over millions of years moved deep underground.

“This is the first time anyone has come up with a fact-based story or model for how blue diamonds form. Prior to this study we had no idea where they form, what kinds of host-rocks they form in, or where they might be getting their boron from,” said Gemological Institute of America research scientist Evan Smith, who led the study published in the journal Nature.

Most diamonds are not completely colorless, often possessing slight yellowish tints. Although rare, some even have prominent hues of, for example, yellow, brown, pink or green. About 99 percent of all diamonds form roughly 90 to 125 miles (150-200 km) underground — shallower depths than the blue ones.

Aside from the Hope Diamond, on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, another blue diamond called the Oppenheimer Blue in 2016 sold for $57.5 million, at the time the highest auction price for any jewel.

“These diamonds are among the deepest ever found,” Carnegie Institution for Science geochemist Steven Shirey said of the blue diamonds.