The Argyle Pink Diamonds 2020 Tender; Rarity Reaches The End Of The Tunnel

This year, the Argyle mine is closing its doors, and the tender is expected to gain exponential demand and price increase, but next year we will see the last tender offer in its 41 years of operation.

The mine will cease to extract rough diamonds by the end of 2020, and will take five years to decommission and dismantle the mine and undertake rehabilitation, followed by an unspecified amount of time to monitor.

This Year’s tender is named “One Lifetime, One Encounter” and has several surprises and unique diamonds. It includes a total of 62 polished diamonds with a total of 57.23 carats. The Tender is headed by lot number 1, a 2.24 carat, Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink, round brilliant diamond; the largest of its kind ever to be offered at any tender.

Argyle 2020 Tender; One Lifetime, One Encounter
Image Credit: Rio Tinto

The collection has 6 “Hero” diamonds. As mentioned above, lot 1 is called Argyle Eternity, a 2.24 carat, round brilliant, Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink diamond. Lot 2 is called Argyle Ethereal, a 2.45 carat, Square Radiant, Fancy Intense Purple-Pink diamond. Lot 3 is called Argyle Sakura, a 1.84 carat, pear shaped, Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink diamond. Lot 4 is called Argyle Emrys, a 0.43 carat, Princess cut, Fancy Deep Grayish Violetish Blue diamond. Lot 5 is called Argyle Skyler, a 0.33 carat, heart shape, Fancy Dark Gray-Violet diamond. Lot 6 is called Argyle Infinite, a 0.70 carat, Oval shape, Fancy Dark Violet- Gray diamond.

Argyle Hero Diamonds
Image Credit: Rio Tinto

This year, the Argyle mine is also offering some unique (12 lots), carefully curated, mini collection. It took the mine five years to put it together, and as a collection will most likely fetch a lot if interest and high bids. It is quite difficult to collect such a unique collection in general, let alone from the same mine, having similar colors, shapes, and sizes. The collection includes pink, red, blue and violet diamonds and a total weight of 13.90 carats. It was named The petite Suiters.

Argyle Petit Oiseau from Petite Suites Collection
Image Credit: Rio Tinto

exceptionally this year, due to Covid-19, the introduction of the collection was done much later than normal, and bids will be closed December 2, 2020 after viewing possibilities at the Argyle mine as well as in Singapore and Antwerp. Most likely the winning bids will be publicly known by New Year’s Eve (The Argyle mine wants to be paid before they announce any public winners of any of the Hero Diamonds).

Argyle Zenith, from Argyle Petite Suites Collection
Image Credit: Rio Tinto

This year, the average Tender weight per diamond is 0.92 carats. The last time it was this high it was back in 2016 and before that it was in 2008. An exception this year that we have not seen since 2012 is the fact that there is a single red diamond offered. It is a 0.74 carat, Radiant shape, and an I2 clarity. Back in 2012 there was also a single red diamond offered. During the 2013-2019 tenders there were 3-5 offered yearly ( 2013 was the first underground tender offered).

Argyle Eternity, Lot 1
Image Credit: Rio Tinto

There is not a single diamond that had a Flawless or Internally Flawless clarity this year. In the full history of the tender there was a single one that was in this category and it was sold in 2016. There are 3 diamonds that had a VVS clarity, but the majority was in the SI clarity category. 33 out of 62 diamonds had an SI clarity, 12 had VS clarity and 14 were in the I category. It is well known and accepted that the Argyle mine produces most of its diamonds in the SI and I clarity. Another exceptional diamond was lot 20, a 2.45 carat, Fancy Vivid Pink diamond, radiant shape. This is the first time that an Argyle diamond gets an I3 clarity. Normally with such low clarity, the standard practice for a Fancy Color diamond, would be to get a half certificate, which means that the certificate only mentions color and weight, but not clarity.

Argyle Ethereal, Lot 2
Image Credit: Rio Tinto

An initial review of the colors based on Argyle color chart, combined with that of the GIA, there are potentially 12-13 diamonds that can be upgraded in color, meaning the color can be improved by slightly re-polishing some facets. This can increase the value substantially on a diamond, but as more professional dealers are invited to review and bid for the diamonds (or at times are financed by individual investors), these upgrades will be taken into consideration. We also know that in recent years Argyle diamond polishers have improved their polishing abilities.

Argyle Sakura, Lot 3
Image Credit: Rio Tinto

Once the invitations by the Argyle Mine to its top client ends at the end of 2021, how will the brand continue to expand? who will take over the marketing efforts of the famous “Argyle Pink Diamonds”? who is holding the majority of the supply currently available? all these and more questions are important, not only to Rio Tinto, the owner of the Argyle mine, but to every dealer holding inventory of Argyle Diamonds, as well as to collectors and connoisseurs…

Argyle Emrys, Lot 4
Image Credit: Rio Tinto

We have been living a continuous value growth of the Argyle Diamonds for the last 30 years or so, but what now? is the price for Argyle Pink Diamonds will continue to go up in the same proportion? perhaps this is a hype by dealers and traders? how do we know the price increase is sustainable? how can we be sure this is not becoming an “irrational exuberance” as the once famous Federal reserve chairman Alan Greenspan has said in his December 5, 1996? just a few short years before the dot-com bubble happened, and the currency crisis in 1998. Will that happen to Argyle Pink Diamonds?

Argyle Skyler, Lot 5
Image Credit: Rio Tinto
Argyle Infinite, Lot 6
Image Credit: Rio Tinto

Lets see what happens by the end of 2020 when Rio Tinto announces the results of the closed-bid auction. 

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