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Petit Oiseau, a collection of blue and red diamonds from the Argyle tender’s Petite Suites Collection.

WITH RIO TINTO’S ARGYLE MINE CLOSING AT THE END OF 2020, ONE OF ITS LAST EVER FANCY COLOR COLLECTIONS RELEASED FOR TENDER

 

One of the fixtures of the diamond industry may be drawing to a close, as Rio Tinto has unveiled the 2020 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, featuring rare pink, red, violet and blue diamonds from its iconic Argyle diamond mine in Western Australia, which will be shut down at the end of 2020 after almost four decades of production.

It is one of the very last offerings to an exclusive group of collectors, diamond connoisseurs and luxury jewellery houses.

Entitled “One Lifetime, One Encounter,” referencing the closure of the iconic mine, the 2020 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender is a collection of the rarest diamonds from a year’s production at the site in the remote east Kimberley region of Western Australia. It includes 62 diamonds with a total weight of 57.23 carats.

“Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine is the first and only ongoing source of rare pink, red and violet diamonds in the world,” said Rio Tinto chief executive of Copper and Diamonds, Arnaud Soirat.  “We have seen, and continue to see, strong demand for these highly coveted diamonds, which together with extremely limited global supply, supports the significant value appreciation for Argyle pink diamonds.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the 2020 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender has been previewed virtually, and there will viewings for exclusive invitees later in the year at the Argyle mine itself, in Perth, and then in Singapore and Antwerp.

Bids close on December 2, 2020.

SIX ‘HERO’ DIAMONDS GO ON SALE

Headlining the sale is Lot Number 1, billed by Rio Tinto as the largest fancy vivid round brilliant diamond ever offered at the tender. Called the Argyle Eternity, it is a 2.24-carat round brilliant fancy vivid purplish pink diamond

In addition to Argyle Eternity, there are five other “hero” diamonds, which the company says have been selected for their unique beauty and named to ensure there is a permanent record of their contribution to the history of the world’s most important gems. They include the Argyle Ethereal, a 2.45-carat square radiant-shaped fancy intense purple-pink diamond; the Argyle Sakura, a 1.84-carat pear-shaped fancy vivid purplish pink diamond; the Argyle Emrys, 0.43-carat princess-shaped fancy deep grayish violetish blue diamond; the Argyle Skylar, 0.33-carat heart-shaped fancy dark gray-violet diamond; and the Argyle Infinité, 0.70-carat oval shaped fancy dark violet-gray diamond.

Also included in the tender are 12 lots of carefully curated sets of miniature rare Argyle pink, red, blue and violet diamonds, weighing 13.9 carats in total. Called the Petite Suites, these have been meticulously collected over a five-year period, striking a harmonious balance between size, shape, colour and clarity.

Argyle Eternity, a 2.24-carat round shaped fancy vivid purplish pink diamond from the 2020 tender.

Argyle Infinité, a 0.70-carat oval shaped fancy dark violet-gray diamond from the 2020 tender.

WORLD’S BEST-KNOWN SOURCE OF PINK DIAMONDS

Since its opening at the end of 1985, the Argyle mine has been the world’s single largest producer of rough diamonds, and its the most significant supplier of natural colored diamonds, champagne, cognac, blue and the highly coveted pink diamonds.

Argyle was a mine that rewrote the diamond history books. Since open-pit digging commenced at the site, it has produced about 90 percent of pinks stones being made available to the market.

More than 75 percent of the mine’s output was comprised of lower-value brown diamonds, selling for an average of $15 to $25 per carat, but the fancy colored stones brought in sometimes millions of dollars per carat, although the mine owners have habitually declined to reveal the exact amounts.

The final production from the Argyle is expected to be sold by 2023, two years after the cessation of activity at the mine, but it is unlikely to make much of a dent on Rio Tinto’s earnings, with diamonds comprising less than 2 percent of the corporation’s net income.

But it will reduce significantly the volume of pink, red, purple and blue stones made available to the market, some of which have been found exclusively in the annual Argyle Pink Diamonds Tenders.