Of all the events in the diamond world, none has the cachet of Rio Tinto's Argyle pink diamond tender. Now entering its 32nd year, this exclusive invitation only event is open to perhaps 150 diamond dealers, connoisseurs, collectors, and retailers. The invitation list is a closely guarded secret, and well it should be. Pink diamonds are among the rarest of stones, commanding sometimes in excess of $1 million per carat, with prices tripling between 2000 and 2014.
The Argyle Pink Diamond Tender
Over the previous three decades the tenders have become celebrated events. The first tender took place in Antwerp, Belgium. In recent years the tender has been shown in Geneva, New York, Hong Kong, London, Perth and Tokyo. The tenders have included as few as 33 or as many as 70 diamonds being displayed in a given year, depending on the mine’s production. Limited-edition catalogs of these events have become as much of collectors’ items as the diamonds themselves and are coveted keepsakes, even among those who cannot afford to glance sideways at an Argyle diamond.
The 30th anniversary 2014 tender yielded in excess of 600 bids for 54 pink and red diamonds. The heroes of the story for 2014 were a handful of stunning red and pink diamonds. There are only 30 red diamonds known to exist, and 13 of them have come from Argyle’s annual display.
The Argyle Cardinal, a 1.21 carat radiant cut rare Fancy Red diamond was expected to fetch in excess of $2 million. Although the identities of buyers are rarely disclosed, buyer Glenn Bakker was quoted as being humbled by the opportunity to possess it.
The Argyle Rosette is a purple-pink diamond weighing 2.17 carats in an emerald cut, the buyer is unknown.
The Argyle Toki is another emerald cut weighing in at 1.59 carats in a fancy intense purplish pink, the buyer is unknown.
In addition to the rarity and beauty of the stones, purchasers and investors alike often take comfort in purchasing diamonds that are ethically sourced. Indeed, while the identities of purchasers are not disclosed by Rio Tinto, the purchasers of the stones are sometimes prone to do a bit of bragging on their own. As one attendee noted, it is impossible to be jaded at the Argyle diamond tender, so perhaps a little giddiness might be excused. For reasons of security, the stones are exhibited only to a select few.
How long such events will continue is open to debate, with the mine being slated for closure in either 2020 or 2021. It is estimated that fewer than 500 significant diamonds remain be found. As there is no other source in development for these rare red and pink diamonds, it remains to be seen how high the price per carat will go. Unlike traditional investments where one can always issue more stock, one cannot command the earth to issue more diamonds. Savvy investors will need to look to the Argyle brand as a benchmark for quality and value.
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