The strong prices generated by the recent Rio Tinto 2012 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender provided further evidence of the increasing value of the rare gemstones. Rio Tinto sold 56 single pink diamonds at the company’s latest tender, along with two reds and 19 lots of blues in what was described by the company as a “unique rainbow collection”.The Australian mine produces more than 90 per cent of the world’s supply of pink diamonds and is said to have less than 10 year’s supply remaining in its subterranean operation.
2012 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, "Argyle Siren"
In recent years, increasing numbers of Argyle pink diamonds have been purchased as investments, due to their beauty and growing rarity, which has helped further increase prices. Australian diamond expert Garry Holloway, of Holloway’s Diamonds, said while he was not convinced the supply of pink diamonds from the mine was as close to drying up as what was sometimes portrayed, he expected the price to continue to climb as the mine aged.
“The Argyle mine was only ever going to operate until about now,” Holloway said. “If it wasn’t for the financial crisis it would have already stopped.”
Australian Diamond Expert, Garry Holloway. Holloway said the decision to mine undergound at the site should prolong the supply of diamonds to close to 10 years, however, he said he believed Rio Tinto had encountered some geological problems in the early stages that may see underground mining at the site shelved and production cease within two to three years. “They have found the geology to be very difficult, much more difficult than they thought that it would be. They probably wouldn’t have started the project had they known then what they know now. “Argyle has been the main source of pink diamonds for a very long time, at the same time the Williamson Mine in South Africa had been the main source of blue diamonds. What we have seen is blue diamonds become more expensive [since Williamson Mine closed] so you might expect pink diamonds will become more expensive,” he said.
Customers from emerging markets are buying more pink diamonds from Rio Tinto Group, the world’s third-largest producer of rough diamonds, as the colored gems begin to be appreciated for their rarity.
“Five years ago, we may have had one or two diamonds go to China and India, but now we’ll have more than 20 percent of the diamonds going to the developing markets,” said Josephine Johnson, business manager at Rio Tinto’s Argyle Pink Diamonds, at a private sale of 75 colored diamonds in Hong Kong. “China is particularly interesting because of the rapid growth in the appreciation and understanding of pink diamonds.”
The Argyle mine in Western Australia supplies 90 percent of the world’s pink diamonds. The mine is scheduled to stop production by 2020, which will leave less than 500 pink diamonds for global distribution and make the colored gems a compelling investment, Johnson said.