For the jewellery connoisseur coveting extreme rarity and unparalleled beauty, highly saturated, fancy coloured diamonds represent the ultimate prize.
So rare are coloured diamonds that only one in 100,000 diamonds qualifies as a ‘Fancy’ colour. The odds lengthen exponentially as the diamonds increase in size.
Across the colour spectrum, red diamonds are the most highly prized, whilst shades of the red hue, especially pink, are the most sought after. Before its closure last year, the Argyle Diamond Mine in Western Australia had been the most significant and consistent source of pink diamonds in the world, producing stones of incomparable brilliance, tone, and splendour. Prior to the Australian discovery in the 1980s, the supply of pink diamonds from India, Borneo, Brazil, and Africa had been intermittent and unpredictable.
Diamond crystals formed deep in the earth’s mantle some 1-3.5 billion years ago. More recently, (tens to hundreds of million years ago), they were carried to the surface by deep-source volcanic eruptions. Scientists now believe that the red and pink colours in diamonds are the result of a molecular distortion in the atomic structure of the crystals, caused by massive volcanic activity.
Most Argyle diamonds are relatively small in size, appearing in a breathtaking colour palette of tender peach, warm bronze, chocolate brown, lilac-tinged pink, even violet, red and blue, in a kaleidoscope of tones, hues, and saturations. They are often set to add accents of visual excitement to white diamond jewellery as we can see in lot 73 of the August Important Jewels auction, or they may be used to create a striking contrast with coloured stones, as with a Sri Lankan sapphire in lot 55.
The allure and appeal of Argyle pink diamonds has been enhanced by the company’s “chain of custody” protocols covering provenance and traceability. Each year’s finest and rarest stones – only 1% of all polished pink diamond production – the vivid or intense pinks, purplish pinks, reds, purples, and blues, are offered in the annual sealed bid ‘Tender’, to a group of some 150 invitation-only buyers.
The Tender stones are eagerly sought-after, particularly the named ‘hero’ stones, the highlights of each Tender collection. According to Arnaud Soirat, a former CEO of Rio Tinto Copper and Diamonds, since the year 2000, Tender stones have significantly appreciated in price, often outperforming other investments.
With its closure in 2020, the Argyle Diamond Mine has cemented its place in gemstone history, having produced such extreme beauty born out of natural chaos.
HAMISH SHARMA / Head of Important Jewels