05 Nov

Iconic WA diamond mine to close, making rare pink gems ‘the new Faberge egg’

This article originally appeared in The Australian and can be accessed here.

The West Australian mine that produces 95 per cent of the world’s pink diamonds will close forever this week and the already high value of the precious gemstone is set to explode as a result.

Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine in the far east Kimberley region ceases production on Tuesday after unearthing more than 865 million carats of variously hued diamonds since beginning operations in 1983.

It has simply run out of sufficient reserves to continue economically-feasible mining.

Gemologist Olivar Musson, the creative director Sydney-based Musson Jewellers, said Argyle pink diamonds had increased in value by 500 per cent over the past 37 years and were going to be worth a lot more.

“Each pink diamond will become a part of history,” Mr Musson said.

“They are an extraordinary legacy for future generations.

“Pink diamonds will become the ultimate in rarity, desirability and luxury.

“It’s a very emotional thing to have worked with so many extraordinary Argyle pinks, for so many years, and to know there will be no more.

“It makes the pink diamonds that came from the Argyle mine all the more special.”

Jewellery historian Vivienne Becker said Argyle pink diamonds “will emerge as the new Faberge egg, the thing jewellery myths are made of” in a decade.

Pink diamonds are so extraordinarily rare it took the Argyle mine 15 years to yield enough to fill a champagne flute.

Argyle pink diamonds are revered around the world. Picture: John Appleyard

The last of the largest rough diamonds from the operation are being offered to diamond specialists from around the world in a special tender featuring gems bigger than 10.8 carats, with bids closing on November 9.

Headlining the tender is a 74.48 carat fancy yellow diamond from Rio Tinto’s Diavik diamond mine in the remote Northwest Territories of Canada.

“Since the Diavik mine began production in 2003 it has produced on average only five large yellow diamonds each year, in effect less than 0.001 per cent of Diavik’s annual production,” Patrick Coppens, general manager and sales and marketing for Rio Tinto’s diamonds business said.

In addition to that sale, another tender is offering cut pink, red, violet and blue diamonds from Argyle to an exclusive group of collectors, diamond connoisseurs and luxury jewellery houses.

The show-stopper is the Argyle Eternity, a 2.24 carat round brilliant fancy vivid purplish/pink diamond.

Bids close on December 2.

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