27 Jun, 2015

Rio Tinto’s 2015 Argyle Tender is Back With Some Red Diamonds

Super-rare red diamonds, prized by collectors and the glitterati, are set to steal the limelight at Rio Tinto’s annual tender of its best coloured diamonds.Only a handful of the tens of millions of carats produced at Rio’s Argyle mine in the Kimberley are reds, and Mother Nature has been kind this year.

Each one is about 1.6 billion years old. “The colour and clarity this year is exceptional,” said Rio Tinto diamonds & minerals chief executive Alan Davies. “The fancy reds are just a fluke of nature, it’s the extra pressure and the extra heat that generates them.”

With names inspired by the world of ballet, the five top-pick “hero” diamonds in this year’s tender include three reds.The top-billed Argyle Prima, a 1.20-carat pear-shaped “fancy red”, is said to combine qualities of size, shape, colour and clarity rarely seen even in the exclusive world of fancy coloured diamonds.

Nicole Kidman, Barbra Streisand and Jennifer Lopez are among owners of pink diamonds, 90 per cent of which are produced at Argyle, where a $2 billion investment to take the operation underground is nearing completion.With no guarantee of the mine’s future after 2020, buyers may have only a few more years to snap up the sought-after pink and red stones. 

“We’re invested through until 2020 and we’re seeing what will happen after that,” Mr Davies said at the world preview of this year’s tender at the Sydney Opera House on Friday.
The results of the annual sealed tender are always kept under wraps.

All Mr Davies will say of the total value of the 64 stones in the 2015 offer, comprising 44.14 carats, is it involves “lots of zeros”. The success of Rio Tinto’s marketing for coloured diamonds has been such that pinks and reds are worth more per carat than traditional brilliant whites. Viewings of the diamonds by potential bidders, which are strictly by invitation only, commenced this week in Sydney, and will continue in Hong Kong, New York and Perth before the tender closes on October 21.

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