It takes something special to make the fancy color diamond world sit up and take notice. That is exactly what happened when Rio Tinto announced to the world that it had discovered a 12.76 carat rough pink diamond at its Argyle mine in the east Kimberley region of Western Australia. This is the largest pink diamond ever found by Rio Tinto.
In the words of Argyle Pink Diamonds' manager, Josephine Johnson, "A diamond of this calibre is unprecedented - it has taken 26 years of Argyle production to unearth this stone and we may never see one like this again." Named the "Argyle Pink Jubilee," the stone is a light pink diamond similar in color to the Williamson Pink that Queen Elizabeth received as a wedding gift and which was later set in a brooch for her coronation.
Although such a large percentage of the world’s pink diamonds emanate from the Argyle mine, it is rare to find a gem anywhere of this size in this color. In fact, it has taken Rio 26 years of production to unearth a diamond of this size.
The diamond will be cut and polished in Perth by Richard How Kim Kam, a 25 year veteran Argyle employee. He has spent the past two months assessing the stone and estimates that it will take 10 days to cut and polish it as a single stone. "I'm going to take it very carefully. I know the world will be watching," he said.
Once cut and polished, the diamond will be graded by a team of international experts. It will then be shown around the world and sold as part of the Argyle Pink Diamond Tender.
Although Rio Tinto did not indicate how much the Argyle Pink Jubilee was expected to fetch, it is not uncommon for pink diamonds to sometimes sell for prices exceeding USD1million per carat. A rumored price of USD10 million is definitely conceivable.
Diamonds of this size and quality usually find their way to museums, royalty, auction houses, or celebrities – in short, to those with the means to afford them. For example, Christie's has only auctioned 18 polished pink diamonds over 10 carats in its 244 year history.
When ownership of a diamond passes so do its naming rights. Consequently, it is doubtful the Argyle Pink Jubilee will keep its name for long. However, although its name may change, its luster, brilliance, and rarity will always remain.