Demand for rare and pricey pink diamonds continues to soar, with Rio Tinto’s annual auction of gems from its Argyle mine in Western Australia attracting an unprecedented level of investor action.
“The price, demand and global reach of Argyle pink diamonds has reached a new level,” said Josephine Johnson, manager of Rio Tinto’s Argyle Pink Diamonds. “We have never had so many people disappointed…One customer bid strongly on every single diamond and was unsuccessful.”
The company keeps prices in the private process confidential, but generally a pink diamond fetches about 20 times the price of a white diamond.
“However it’s such a hyperbolic scale when you get up to the rare end of our tender diamonds, our red diamonds, our blues and our purplish pinks,” Ms. Johnson said.
Rio said successful bidders were from established and emerging markets, with several diamonds heading to India and the blue Argyle Elektra destined for a buyer in Japan. The most valuable in the collect was the Argyle Siren, a 1.32 carat square vivid purplish pink diamond.
“These rare Argyle diamonds provide the escalating intrinsic value of an investment and are destined for the exclusive echelons of the world’s most sophisticated collectors,” said Jean-Marc Lieberherr, chief commercial officer of Rio Tinto Diamonds.
The Argyle mine produces more than 90% of the world’s pink diamonds, which are highly coveted because of their rarity. It is part of a division Rio Tinto is considering selling. Rio Tinto sells what it considers to be the best of its pink diamonds in an annual tender. It has only offered 33 red diamonds in the process in more than 26 years, while blue diamonds are collected and sold only every few years.
Rio Tinto is one of the world’s largest producers of diamonds, operating the Argyle mine, Diavik mine in northern Canada and Murowa mine in Zimbabwe. The company in late March said it was reviewing options for the division, which only accounted for just over 1% of revenue in the first half of the year.