Rio Tinto Debuts Virtual Reality Technology at LUXURY Show in Las Vegas

Have you ever wondered what the inside of a diamond mine looks like?

As unlikely as it sounds, you can satisfy that curiosity at the LUXURY show, which opened in Las Vegas on Tuesday and runs through June 2. Rio Tinto is inviting show goers to its booth to discover not only what its Diavik Diamond Mine looks like, but what it feels like to hover above the mine in a plane and travel its depths inside a cart.

The company is encouraging retailers to go on a virtual journey to Canada’s remote Northwest Territories using the Oculus Rift, a gaming headset manufactured by Irvine, Calif.–based Oculus VR, a virtual-reality and 3-D gaming company acquired by Facebook in March for $2 billion.

Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg said the technology “has the chance to create the most social platform ever and change the way we work, play, and communicate.”

As an early adopter, Rio Tinto partnered with New York City–based Bravo Media Inc. to create its very own Oculus experience. Those who take part will begin their 2.5-minute interactive journey to Diavik in a plane that flies high above the Canadian tundra. As the plane prepares to descend into one of the mine’s open pits, users can turn their heads to take in a 360-degree view of the mine and its surroundings. The virtual tour carries on into the farthest reaches of the mine via a cart that allows users to see firsthand the source of Rio Tinto’s diamonds.


Courtesy Rio Tinto

A bird’s-eye view of Rio Tintos Diavik Diamond Mine, as seen through the Oculus Rift headset

“The interactive technology brings to life the mining experience in a very compelling visual way and helps translate our story of ethical sourced diamonds from the mine to the market, for today’s discerning consumer,” Bruno Sané, general manager of marketing for Rio Tinto Diamonds, said in a statement.

The company says that it is keen to use the cutting-edge technology to reach Generation Y consumers, and that the Oculus experience is right in line with the market’s growing emphasis on authenticity and ethical sourcing.

“How are we ever going to evolve and compete with the Apples of the world?” asked Brandee Dallow, vice president of marketing for the Rio Tinto U.S. representative office, while giving JCK an exclusive glimpse of the Oculus Rift earlier this month. “I would love to see this technology in a jewelry retail store.… It’s endless what you can teach the jewelry community.”