Not all of great diamonds of the world are accounted for in museums or residing in the collections of crown jewels that reflect the grandeur of empires gone by. One of the most spectacular stones the world was unearthed not from the ancient mines of India, but from a thoroughly modern mine in Australia. The Argyle Pink Jubilee is one of the most captivating stones ever unearthed, and a stunning example of the diamond cutter’s masterful fusion of art and high technology.
The Argyle Pink Diamond Origin
If there is a great mine in modern history, the Argyle mine certainly deserves consideration for one of the top spots. The East Kimberly mine located in Western Australia is the main supplier of the exceptionally rare pink diamonds. One day in August 2011 a 12.76 carat light pink diamond was unearthed. If pink diamonds are rare, large pink diamonds are breathtakingly so. It was said upon discovery that the Jubilee was a one-of-a-kind in the mine’s 26 years of history, and it was very unlikely that they would find another one. Pink diamonds are so incredibly rare that Christie’s auction house has auctioned less than 20 polished pink diamonds in excess of 10 carats in nearly 250 years of history - including the hotly contested sale of what is thought to be the Princie Diamond.
Heat and Pressure
With the market so hot for pink diamonds, prices can regularly exceed $1 million per carat at the annual Argyle Tender, and fresh out of the ground the diamond was estimated to be worth in the tens of millions at auction. The mine produces only a handful of stones over 1 carat each year, so by size alone the Jubilee could command a stunning price. One can be forgiven if the diamond world gets a little bit giddy as the event approaches, and anticipation was building even as the diamond was handed off to a diamond surgeon with a quarter century of experience in the art. It was expected that the process would take 10 days to completely cut and polish the stone.
As the cutting process began it became apparent that there a series of flaws were present as was one major internal fault line that put the entire stone at jeopardy. Rio Tinto, rather than risk the stone, halted the cutting process with regret and disappointment. While still valuable on size and color alone, the record-setting stone was donated to the Melbourne Museum Victoria as part of their permanent collection, where the now 8 carat stone is on display in the museum’s Dynamic Earth Exhibition. While some might debate if the stone could be divided along the fault line and recut into two gems, the generous gift of Rio Tinto cannot be underestimated. A large number of pink diamonds currently rest in private hands either as jewelry, or kept in vaults as investments. The opportunity for the public to see and understand these wonderful stones can only help future generations appreciate diamonds both as works of art and as a product of billions of years of geological processes.
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