The most exclusive (and arguably most dazzling) of their kind in the world, ‘beyond rare’ pink diamonds are set to shine brighter than ever, writes Natasha Dragun.
“I always tell prospective clients, you want quality when it comes to pink diamonds,” says Cameron Robinson, director of Bruce Robinson Diamonds. “The kind of diamond that will burn your eyes out with its beauty.” To be fair – most do, these rarest of gems are as exquisite as they are exclusive. All the more so since their largest source, Rio Tinto’s Argyle diamond mine in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, cut its last pink stone at the end of 2020.
“Argyle pink diamonds are flukes of nature. They’re the result of a unique combination of pressure and heat deep within the Earth’s surface some two billion years ago,” explains Robyn Ellison from Rio Tinto.
Such flukes are so globally scarce that until last year, 90 per cent came from the WA mine. That’s still a tiny figure in the world’s diamond market. Since production began in 1983, Argyle has unveiled 865 million carats of rough diamonds. Of these, however, just over one million carats (0.1%) have been classified as pink. “With the closure of Argyle, there is no other consistent source of rare pink diamonds in the world today.”
It’s no wonder the brand’s mantra is, ‘beyond rare.’
“Rarity, uniqueness and a finite supply has driven the strong value appreciation we have seen, and continue to see, in Argyle pink diamonds,” says Robyn. “By way of example, since 2000 the prices of our Tender diamonds have increased more than 600%.”
Pink Diamonds Tender process
Every year since the Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender made its debut in Antwerp in 1984, this legendary invitation-only event has been the mainstay of the international diamond calendar. It has set new benchmarks, and fuelled a passion for the incomparable. Only the world’s most reputable jewellers – members of Argyle’s ‘Select Atelier’ – are bestowed an invite. There are just 38 of them in September 2021, this the final year of the Tender process given the mine’s closure.
Entitled ‘Journey Beyond’, the event will feature 70 Gemological Institute of America (GIA)-graded diamonds weighing 81.63 carats. This will include 42 diamonds over a carat and five ‘Hero Diamonds’. The star is surely the ‘Argyle Eclipse’, a Radiant Fancy Intense Pink S12 coming in at a dazzling 3.47 carats. To put that into perspective, the biggest ever sold by Argyle was a 4.15-carat Fancy Intense Purplish Pink SI2 Radiant in 2001. This year is extraordinary. “It’s the largest Tender collection ever,” says Rohan Milne of Perth-based Rohan Jewellers. There have never been this many pink diamonds, and of such quality.
Commitment to pink diamond quality
Over his career, Rohan has made jewellery for Pope John Paul II. It’s this kind of commitment to quality that gets you selected to attend the Argyle Tender and glimpse these gems first-hand Rohan has been attending since his late 20s, when he was by far the youngest jeweller in attendance. “Being invited to feel, touch and see the colour of each diamond is truly a privilege,” he says.
“Sometimes you see things in person that others won’t see,” adds Cameron. “There’s no other experience like it.”
If getting selected to attend the Tender wasn’t hard enough, when you arrive, you’re bidding against some of the world’s top jewellers. In a silent auction. “It’s exhilarating, thrilling, and an honour to be included,” says Cameron, whose family-owned business designs and manufactures 86% of its jewellery on site. “I also find it nerve-wracking. Sometimes you have to pull in your emotions.”
An addictive investment
It doesn’t matter which Select Atelier you talk to, they will tell you that once you have a pink diamond in your portfolio, you’ll want another. And another. For many ateliers, the majority of customers are repeats, and have been on the hunt for pink diamonds for decades. “We go to every Tender with briefs from loyal clients detailing what they’re on the lookout for,” says Rohan.
“There has been a lot more interest in pink diamonds as an investment in recent years,” he adds, nodding to news of the mine’s impending closure. “But people love wearing them. It’s a bug that bites you – our clients are like, ‘wow I really love this’.”
Customers also love the fact that Argyle is a true luxury brand. “It’s the only mine in the world to have provenance,” says Cameron. “When you buy an Argyle diamond, you get a certificate stating as such. It holds serious weight in the purchase, because it says, ‘the best of the best’.”
And, rather thrillingly, it’s a trademark Rio Tinto will retain into the future, despite the fact it no longer mines at Argyle. While they will not hold Tenders post 2021, Argyle may release exclusive collections, which all ateliers and jewellers are surely excited about.
“This is the most coveted concentrated form of wealth in the world,” says Rohan. “It really is a dream to work with pink diamonds.”
What should I look for in pink diamonds, as an investor?
“Colour, colour and colour,” says Robyn. “The colour palette of Argyle pink diamonds is so unique that a proprietary colour grading system was created by Argyle’s expert graders in the 1980s. This internationally recognised system is the master guide in assessing Argyle pink diamonds. Generally speaking, the more intense the colour, the rarer and more valuable the diamond.”
“The range of colour is so broad,” comments Rohan. “If you’re investing, make sure it’s a colour tone you will love, as well as someone else should you decide to sell.”
Certain sizes and shapes also make pink diamonds more covetable and valuable. At the end of the day you want something that you love, and that others will love into the future.
Who should I buy from?
For Cameron, quality is the highest priority. His company has been making the most exquisite handcrafted jewellery since 1969. It has also been repeatedly chosen as one of the ‘Select Ateliers’ to attend Rio Tinto’s annual Argyle Pink Diamond Tender.
Cameron and his employees turn these exclusive gems into bespoke creations for many new and repeat customers. It might be a handmade pink-and-white diamond pendant, or a 2.36-carat princess-cut Argyle diamond ring with pink diamond shoulders.
“Once you own a pink diamond, you’re hooked for life,” says Cameron.