A Buyer's Guide to Pink Argyle Diamonds
In the northern East Kimberley area of Western Australia sits Rio Tinto's Argyle diamond mine, popularly known as the Argyle AK1 Pipe. Ninety per cent of the world's pink diamonds come from this region. The mining sector will face a significant loss when mining operations wind down.
Similarly to the loss of a brilliant artist who will never create another masterpiece, the anticipation of a new suite of Argyle fancy-coloured diamonds will no longer be a part of our lives. This article aims to disentangle the distinctions between Argyle pink diamonds and their natural fancy pink diamond counterparts.
As a group, fancy-coloured diamonds that occur naturally are very uncommon and precious. Therefore, Argyle is the only source of constantly supplying the market with vivid-coloured diamonds, which sparked a worldwide demand for them.
Pinks were very scarce and hard to acquire before Argyle's contribution to the world supply. However, pink is the most sought-after hue in the world of fancy natural diamonds, and Argyle pinks have consistently commanded the highest price points for the last 40 years.
How Do Argyle Pinks Differ from the Rest?
Compared to pinks found in other deposits, the pinks that came from this one had a more intense saturation of colour.
These stones have a distinctive pink bubblegum colour, unlike the more subdued pinks in other parts of the world. Geologists' best guess as to why these stones have such rich hues is that it has to do with how they're fashioned.
The conventional wisdom is that this deposit originated farther down the Earth's mantle than most diamonds. For this reason, more pressure and effort than usual were used to get these stones to a level where they could be mined closer to the surface.
Diamonds were initially discovered in Lamproite, a volcanic rock similar to Kimberlite, near the Argyle pipe, which may account for the diamonds' unusual tint.
Though the study has not yet proven it, it has been speculated that this host rock is responsible for the Argyle's high yield of tiny pink diamonds. However, the average size of stones produced is less than predicted, most leaving the mine at approximately 0.10 carat.
This may also explain why many feel that Argyle diamonds are tougher and denser than diamonds from other sources. The added tension on the diamond seedlings generated the pink hue. Most coloured diamonds get their colour from impurities, but pink diamonds can only be created when subjected to incredible heat and pressure within the crystal structure.
Diamond cutters familiar with this material may note the increased tension inside the stone. Colourless diamonds are like butter to cut, whereas Argyle pinks are like dealing with knots in the wood, according to common wisdom. As a result, the diamonds are harder to clean and are more fragile than other forms of the diamond substance.
Another fascinating trait is that 70% of diamonds that emerge from the mining display blue fluorescence when seen under ultraviolet light.
The Argyle has successfully designed its colour grading method tailored to the breadth of content they give.
Their colour chart contains a colour categorization system like that used by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which comprises a colour hue designation and a grade for the intensity of colour. So, for example, you may classify an Argyle pink diamond as "purplish pink" (PP), "pink rose" (PR), "pink" (P), or "pink champagne" (PC).
Once a colour has been designated, each stone is given a numerical value from 1 (the most intense) to 9 (the least intense) to express the degree of colour. This range of numbers from 1 to 9 applies to purple-pink, pink, and pink rose but not too pink champagne, which only goes from 1 to 3.
It's vital to remember that the GIA and The Argyle utilize different colour schemes when grading diamonds since you'll likely obtain reports from both organizations.
A diamond may be graded as "P3" by The Argyle method yet as "Fancy Intense Pink" by the GIA. All Argyle diamonds above 0.08 carats are laser inscribed, and each comes with its certificate and colour grading report.
In light of the high value placed on fancy-coloured Argyle diamonds, the mine sets aside between forty and sixty of the year's best finds to auction off to an exclusive club of roughly one hundred and fifty diamond purchasers.
The prestigious Argyle Diamond Tender takes place once a year. However, the last special suite of diamonds to be mined in the final year of production will be released at a single event in 2021.
A Future Without the Argyle
The Argyle Mine has produced an astounding 865 million carats of the natural diamond since 1983. The problem is that just 5% of them are precious gems.
The remaining diamonds are classified as "industrial grade," meaning they will likely be used on a saw blade or drill bit rather than put into jewellery.
There are 5% of diamonds total, with 80% being brown in colouration, 15% being yellow, 4% being colourless, and the remaining 1% being a rainbow of pinks, reds, blues, and violets. Extremely few stones of more exceeding 0.50 carats are discovered each year. One year's worth of output may fit in your hand.
To put these figures into perspective, we might assume that yearly output is constant and calculate those 865 million carats over 37 years equates to an annual production of 432,500 carats of Argyle raw diamond material in pink, red, blue, and violet hues.
Rough refers to all mined gemstones and diamonds before they are cut, faceted, and polished into their ultimate forms.
There will be scraps left behind after a natural diamond has been polished. Each polished facet of a diamond contains a small amount of diamond dust, which is used to eliminate imperfections and enhance the diamond's brilliance and longevity.
The stone's mass may be drastically reduced by altering its form, size, and inclusions.
Taking a conservative estimate of a third of the material being wasted, the largest pink diamond supplier in the world has only introduced slightly more than a quarter of a million carats (288,333.33) of natural fancy pink-, red-, blue-, and violet-coloured diamonds to the world over 37 years.
That implies that the market rose by about 8,000 carats per year from this supply alone, and now that the celebration is over, we will be fortunate to see 800 carats presented each year from diverse sources worldwide.
Even fewer gem-quality stones may be found with pink tones so saturated they can compete with the rare and expensive Argyle pinks.
While it's unlikely that the shutdown of a single colourless diamond mine would significantly impact global supply, you can bet that the repercussions of this producer's departure will be felt throughout the industry, leading to increased prices for diamonds with a pedigree that includes the Argyle mine.
A Solid Foundation for the Future
It will be fascinating to observe how Rio Tinto, which has always been committed to mining in a socially and ecologically responsible manner, handles the closure of this mine. However, they are quite pleased with how their business is run from a closing perspective.
They received funding from the World Wildlife Fund and the Indonesian government in 2017 to turn their gold mine in Kelian into a haven for the critically endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros. A section of the land has been set aside as a "Protection Forest" for sheltering and rearing animals before they are released into the wild.
For the Argyle mine, Rio Tinto aims to collaborate with the Australian government to help communities who have depended on the mine's infrastructure for the previous 40 years find new ways to make a living via entrepreneurship.
As business slows, the objective is to help employees further their careers by providing resources and education.
In addition to repairing and maintaining the land for future generations, they collaborate with indigenous communities to guarantee that the possibilities created by their presence will be sustainable long after they have gone.
Is there a chance that the Price of Argyle Diamonds May Rise?
Pink diamonds are so uncommon that they have always been a source of fascination for people. However, since 2000, the value of Argyle pink diamonds has increased by up to 28 per cent yearly, making them more desirable.
What Makes Argyle Diamonds so Rare and Costly?
The Argyle Mine is the only known source of pink diamonds in Australia. Since such a small amount is available, Argyle Pink Diamonds are very costly. Like white diamonds, pink diamonds develop over millions of years in the kimberlite pipes of volcanoes from pure carbon.
Should you Invest in a Pink Diamond?
The value of genuine pink diamonds is rising because of their increasing rarity and widespread acclaim. The price of fancy-coloured diamonds follows the same pattern as that of white diamonds: it increases with carat weight, cut quality, colour grade, and clarity grade.
Diamonds don't Lose their Worth, Right?
A diamond, like a vehicle, is a depreciating asset since it quickly loses most of its value after purchase. In this case, consider the precious metals gold and silver. Since coins may be held, sold, or traded at any moment, the market for them is very liquid and fungible.
If you have an Argyle diamond or are thinking about purchasing one, it's important to be aware of the current market.
While Argyle diamonds were once highly sought-after and valuable, the recent discovery of vast quantities of natural-coloured diamonds has decreased demand and value.
However, many people still appreciate the unique beauty of these diamonds, and they may become more popular in the future. In any case, it's always advisable to consult a qualified jeweller before making any major purchase.