Owned and operated by Rio Tinto in Western Australian’s remote Kimberly region since 1983 the Argyle diamond mine has produced nearly a billion carats of diamonds as one of the worlds largest producers of rough diamonds and is best know for their amazing supply of highly valuable champaigne, cognac, pink and blue coloured diamonds.
The Argyle diamond mine was mined as an open pit mine up until 2013 when the depth of the mine became to great and the decision was made to continue on with the mine as an underground venture using block cave techniques where the ore material is undercut and allowed to cave in uner its own pressure for collection. This decision has allowed the Argyle diamond mine’s life to be extended until around 2020. Going underground has not reduced the amount of diamonds produced although the quality of pink diamonds has reduced slightly.
With Rio Tinto’s Argyle Diamond mine being the world’s primary producer of the rare and valuable pink diamond they made a very smart decision to market these precious diamonds themselves. Although most of the white diamonds and many of the small pink diamonds go direct to cutting factories around the world the best and largest pink diamonds are sent out to be cut and then returned to Argyle to be marketed to direct Argyle Partners around the world who then distribute them to traders, manufacturers and luxury jewellery retailers.
The absolute best pink diamonds from each years’ production are sold through auction held by Argyle called the Argyle Pink Diamond Tender. Of the 20 million diamonds mine out of the Argyle diamond mine each year only 50-60 are selected to be presented around the world with tender bids closing around October.
Argyle red diamonds – beyond rare
As well as the famous pink diamonds, the Australian Argyle diamond mine also produces some of the largest and most magnificent colour fancy red diamonds. These red diamonds are considered beyond rare with only around 40 large pure red diamonds are known to existing in the world.
Any Argyle red diamond is a rare diamond but diamonds up around the 1ct weight are given “hero” status by Argyle. Hero diamonds are the diamonds that are considered beyond rare and will never see another equal, these signature tender diamonds are given their own name as they hold a place in Argyle history. In the 2014 Argyle tender there was a record four pure fancy red diamonds in the tender with the “Argyle Cardinal,” a 1.21ct radiant cut pure red diamond being the star of the collection.
When gems stones exhibit other traits outside of their pure form it is often due to the presence of other elements in the surrounding environment. These elements are combined within the structure of the gem during formation causing a positive or negative effect on its appearance. What make red and pink diamonds unusual is that the diamond’s colouration comes not from other elements but from massive structural warping of the crystal lattice caused by exposure to heavy radiation during its formation. The diamonds is essentially a standard white diamond but the way that light is then passed through the warped structure of the diamond creates the red appearance.
Argyle fancy blue and violet diamonds
The Argyle diamond mine’s coloured diamond production also includes a small quantity of high quality fancy blue and violet coloured diamonds. The blue diamond production is of lesser uniqueness over other mines but is still given its own grading scale by Argyle of BL1-3 with 3 being the deepest blue.
Within the Argyle blue diamond range is however the very unique violet coloured diamonds which are blue diamonds with a secondary tone of pink. Of all the tender diamonds only 42 diamonds offered have been violet in colour and many have been as small as 0.30ct. Argyle blue diamonds are so rare that acquiring one can take significant time and the best chance to source a quality blue or violet diamond is to contact a diamond merchant who has direct access to the Argyle Partners.
What are the Argyle tender diamonds?
With the high retail demand for pink diamonds and absolute rarity of top quality large diamonds, the Argyle diamond company created a tender process for selling their most exceptional quality diamonds at a single yearly event. With unprecedented worldwide interest, the Argyle tender showcases the best diamonds to emerge from each years production. Each Argyle registered buyer is allowed to make a single bid for any of the tender’s diamonds with their offer to purchase these rare gems many of which may never appear back on the public market. Each Argyle tender diamond is universally unique and the growing popularity continually proves to break many of the expected price estimates.
Argyle tender hero diamonds
Throughout Argyle’s 30 year history they have produced 65 diamonds that are so exceptional that they have awarded them “hero” status. Each of these Argyle Hero diamonds is exceptional in both size and colour, which are generally over 1ct in weight with a rich dark pink or red colour. With most of these diamond going directly to private investors it is a very rare occasion that you will find one available back on the market. Therefore if you wish to purchase an Argyle Hero diamond be prepared that you will need to wait until the next Argyle tender auction and will need the assistance of an Argyle tender invited jeweller to place your bid.
How many Argyle tender diamonds are there?
Argyle has been in full production for 30 years now and has produced over 1800 tender quality red, pink and blue diamonds of exceptional quality and size. Unfortunately this anniversary also came with the announcement of the
prediction of the end of the mines commercial lifespan. Although there will still be a number of small and lower grade diamond produced It is now estimated that there will be less than 500 tender quality diamonds left to be discovered. As predicted the size and quality standards of the tender diamonds will also be reduced with the 2015 Argyle tender list containing several diamond of a quality that previously would not have been consider of tender quality.