What’s so special about Argyle Pink Diamonds?
Updated: Feb 18
They’re probably some of the diamond world’s most famous and sought-after gemstones, but what’s so special about Argyle pink diamonds?
Argyle Pink Diamond. Copyright Kym Hughes @symmetryvaluations
The Argyle Diamond Mine lies in the remote East Kimberly region of Western Australia, the part of the country in which most diamond mines are located. In its 37 years of operation, it has produced 385 million carats of diamonds, but production has dwindled over the past few years and the mine finally closed in November 2020.
Argyle Mine from above. Copyright Kathy King @vaultvaluations
Few things raise a gemstone’s value like rarity and the prospect of the Argyle Mine’s closure saw Argyle Pink Diamonds double over the five years preceding cease of operations. Pink diamonds are especially popular with the Asian market, where the kawaii (cute) culture originating in Japan has increased demand for gemstones in bubble-gum colours. Since this one mine produced over 90% of the world’s pink diamonds, we can expect the price of pink diamonds to stay, well, ‘in the pink’ for a long time yet!
Usually, fancy diamonds (i.e. coloured diamonds) occur due to the presence of different chemical elements. Nitrogen for example, usually gives rise to yellow diamonds. But pink diamonds are different—the pink colour we see is due to distortion in the crystal structure and the nature of this distortion can’t be reproduced in a lab. Scientists have proposed that this distortion is the caused by immense pressure resulting from some seismic event during the diamonds’ formation. Lab-created pink diamonds must rely on different methods of production to replicate the colour found in nature.
Argyle Mine processing plant. Copyright Kathy King @vaultvaluations
Not all diamonds from the Argyle mine are pink. In fact, the pink diamonds are very rare and 80% of the diamonds produced by the Argyle mine are brown—a more difficult colour to sell. Brown diamonds are often marketed as ‘champagne’ or ‘cognac’ to increase their appeal.
Argyle pink diamonds are valued according to the 4Cs, like any other diamond, but the mine has also developed its own colour chart and grading system. The colour categories are Purplish Pink, Pink, Pink Rose and Pink Champagne and the stones are then graded according to the intensity of colour, with 1 being the highest intensity and 9 the lowest.
The Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender is one of the most exclusive annual events in the gemstone industry. Around 100 jewellery houses, collectors and connoisseurs are invited to view and buy a collection of the mine’s best pink diamonds. Strictly invitation only, access is a true sign you’ve made it.
Now the mine has ceased production, 2021’s Argyle Pink Diamond Tender will be the very last. It’s the end of an era and I’ll be interested to see what happens to the price of Argyle stones in the coming years.
Be sure. Be smart. Buy with confidence
PS - Thank you to Kym Hughes and Kathy King for sharing their photos.
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