One in a Million: The 2005 Argyle Pink Diamond Tender

Every year, the Argyle Mine in Australia unearths a group of rare fancy saturated pink diamonds, which Argyle sells at its annual Pink Diamond Tender. These stones, unlike the light Barbie-doll-pink South African stones, are rich raspberries and cranberries. For every million carats recovered, less than one carat of pink has ended up in the Tender.

Argyle Diamonds, Perth, Australia, brought its annual harvest of pink diamonds to an invitation-only event in New York City, one of seven worldwide stops for the 21st Argyle Pink Diamond Tender. This year’s Tender had 60 diamonds, with a total weight of 58.81 cts.

The other stops on the Tender tour, which took place between Sept. 1 and Oct. 5, were London; Tokyo; Hong Kong; Antwerp, Belgium; Geneva; and Perth.

For the 2005 Tender, Argyle sent 250 invitations to the world’s leading diamond manufacturers, dealers, and “very special top-line retailers.” Only about 70 viewed the goods. One was Alan Bronstein, color-diamond expert and owner of Aurora Gems Inc. in New York. As he has in the past, Bronstein graciously invited JCK’s gemstone editor to come along, examine the diamonds, and take some images for our annual report.

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An invitation to an Argyle Pink Diamond Tender entitles the guest to a one-hour time slot. The diamonds are placed in individual black leatherette glass-topped presentation boxes on a round conference table. The stones, typically half-caraters up to 2.00 cts., are all fancy deep-saturated pink diamonds.

One of the prettiest diamonds in this year’s group was Lot #44, a 1.09 ct. emerald-cut Fancy Intense Purple-Pink/VS2. According to Danny Goeman, manager of sales and marketing for Argyle Diamonds, Lot #44 attracted the most bids. [Ed.’s note: It was my personal favorite.]

Winning bids aren’t revealed, but Jordan Fine, vice president of sales and marketing for Amgad in New York, thought the price for Lot #44 would range between $100,000 and $180,000. Bronstein predicted a price well above $100,000 per carat, but less than $200,000 per carat. But whatever it sold for, it wasn’t the most expensive.

“This year’s most valued gem of the collection was Lot #59, a stunning 2.35 ct. Fancy Intense Purplish-Pink/SI1 radiant-cut diamond,” says Goeman. Bronstein calls it “the most beautiful, cleanest, and most important individual gem in the show.”

Bronstein and Fine both remarked on the number of reds—five—at this year’s Tender. The color of a few may have benefited from recutting, but Fine didn’t suggest anyone take the risk. Cutting from Argyle has been especially good at maximizing the stone’s potential.

The selection was slightly weaker than in years past, notes Fine. He saw the Tender in New York, and again in Hong Kong. “I think quality was very good,” he says. “But I would have liked to see more stones.” (Actually, 60 stones for a tender is quite high.)

Of the 60 stones for sale, 33 weighed less than a carat. “The smaller stones they had were beautiful,” says Fine. “I would like to see a lot more larger diamonds. The real interest for us was to bid predominantly on diamonds over a carat.”

“Argyle’s never really had big stones,” argues Bronstein. (One of the biggest Tender stones was just over 4.00 cts.) “If you can have a 25.00 ct. pink from Africa, or a 4.00 ct. pink from Australia, well … We’re obviously not focusing on size at the Argyle Tender. We’re focused on the rarity of the color, and that’s what drives the price.”

At the end of the seven-city tour, Argyle spent 10 hours analyzing bids, identifying winners, and determining final results. It’s a complicated task. Bidders can bid on single stones, any group of stones, or the entire lot of 60. The high bid on a particular stone doesn’t always win. If it’s one of a pair, it may work to Argyle’s advantage to sell it to the highest bidder for the pair.

Goeman says Argyle is pleased with the results. “The 60-stone collection was divided up among 22 successful bidders over a wide geographic spread,” he says, adding that this year’s bidding was very competitive.

“Without a doubt this was the strongest pricing they’ve ever had, even considering that the stones were not the best they’ve ever offered,” Bronstein says. How does he know this, if bids are sealed? “I say that based on certain offers that I made on stones I didn’t get,” he says, adding that his losing bids were strong offers.