I capped off my week in New York City last Wednesday with one of the most spectacular sights I’ve ever seen in 17 years of writing about fine jewelry: a 2.11 ct. fancy red diamond named the “Argyle Everglow.”
It was in a showcase at The Glasshouses, an event space in Chelsea commandeered by a team from Rio Tinto for its annual Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, an exclusive event in which the Argyle mine’s annual production of pink (and purple and red) diamonds is displayed to a select group of dealers and press. (A fantastic selection of jewelry featuring pink and purple diamonds was also on display.) This year’s collection of 58 diamonds, weighing a total of 49.39 cts., will continue on to Hong Kong and Perth before bids for the silent auction close on October 11.
Red Cluster ring in 18k white and pink gold with 0.48 ct. Argyle fancy purplish red radiant-cut diamond and 2.70 cts. t.w. pear-shape white diamonds, price upon request; JFine Diamonds
Located in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia, the Argyle mine is the world’s biggest diamond mine in terms of number of carats produced. Since it began operations in 1983, it has yielded more than 800 million cts. of diamonds, the vast majority of them brown gems, better known by their more effervescent name, champagne diamonds. The ultra-rare pink, purple, violet, red, and blue diamonds that have emerged from Argyle are the cherries on top. Herewith, five things you probably don’t know about the mine or its most spectacular stones:
In 30 years, Argyle has sold fewer than 20 cts. of fancy red diamonds.
If that doesn’t give you an appreciation for the Argyle Everglow’s rarity, consider this remark from Rio Tinto Copper & Diamonds chief executive Arnaud Soirat: “If you want to visualize the full production of pink diamonds greater than 0.5 carats, you can hold it in the palm of your hand. That is one full year of production. The fancy red diamond is even rarer.”
The radiant-shaped gem earned a fancy red VS2 grade from GIA, making it “one of the most collectible reds ever,” according to Argyle Pink Diamonds manager Josephine Johnson.
The Argyle Everglow, a 2.11 ct. radiant-shaped fancy red diamond (also at top)
Based on auction records for comparable gems, the Argyle Everglow is worth around $5 million.
At a 2014 auction in Hong Kong, a 2.09 ct. fancy red diamond sold for $5 million, or $2.4 million per carat, a record total price and per-carat price for a red diamond.
The best-selling author Nicholas Sparks is an Argyle pink diamond junkie.
I was gawking at a spectacular pair of earrings in one of the showcases when I overheard David Shara, founder of NYC-based Optimum Diamonds (the company behind the awesome 65 ct. Arctic Sun fancy vivid yellow diamond profiled in our June issue) talking about their surprising owner.
Imagine a pair of earrings cascading with 20 red diamonds, totaling almost 10 cts., and then imagine that they are part of a private collection owned by Nicholas Sparks, author of The Notebook, among other best-sellers. Kind of mind-blowing, right?
Shara told me that Sparks loves pink and red diamonds and has commissioned a jeweler with a pedigree that includes work at Van Cleef & Arpels to make 12 sets of earrings for a collection that’s not for sale, but will be shown to the public—at the Smithsonian, no less.
“He loves and appreciates pink and red diamonds, he understands their rarity,” Shara said, calling Sparks “a great patron.” I’ll say!
The hero of the 2016 Argyle Pink Diamond Tender graces the cover of JCK’s current issue!
The cover of JCK’s July-August 2017 issue is a stunner, not least because one of the two rings featured is the hero of the 2016 Argyle Tender, a 2.83 ct. violet diamond that is the largest violet diamond ever to come out of Argyle.
Now set in a platinum ring by Scott West for L.J. West Diamonds in New York City, the violet gem caught our eye at JCK Las Vegas. After we spied it in a showcase, we basically begged Gino Di Geso, director of marketing for L.J. West, to let us borrow it for our cover shoot. To learn that the violet diamond at its center was the star of last year’s tender makes our decision to put it on our cover that much sweeter.
2.83 ct. Argyle violet diamond with 0.67 ct. t.w. heart-shape and 0.83 ct. t.w. round vivid pink diamonds in platinum, price on request; Scott West for L.J. West Diamonds, 212-997-0940, ljwestdiamonds.com
The Argyle mine is only expected to last four more years.
The Argyle mine’s lifespan is expected to reach 2021. If you think gems like the Everglow—or any of the other “hero” gems of the 2017 tender, including the 1.14 ct. fancy red “Argyle Isla,” the 2.42 ct. fancy purple-pink “Argyle Avaline,” the 1.50 ct. fancy deep pink “Argyle Kalina,” and the 0.91 ct. fancy deep gray-violet “Argyle Liberté”—are rare now, imagine what that term will mean when the Australian earth refuses to yield any more. How high might their prices go if they return to the secondary market? And how will the industry meet demand if the champagne diamonds that have fueled so much growth in this business suddenly run dry? This, to me, is the question confronting the entire diamond industry, given that sooner or later, all mines face an inevitable conclusion. I have some ideas, as I suspect you do, too. And they pivot on the biggest issues we’re grappling with as a trade. For now, however, let’s table the conversation and instead savor the singular appeal of true rarity.
The hero diamonds of the 2017 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender