Argyle Pink Prices Skyrocket

The 23rd annual Rio Tinto Diamonds Argyle Pink Diamond Tender held last September in Hong Kong, New York, and Perth, Australia, was, as usual, exciting and unpredictable. Sixty-five diamonds—64 saturated pinks and reds and one violet—were sold to 17 successful bidders at record-breaking prices.

Making up the 65 special selections were 28 straight pinks, 28 purplish pinks, four purple pinks, four Fancy Purplish-Reds, and a 0.77 ct. shield-cut Fancy Dark Gray-Violet. Not many exceeded 1.50 cts., and clarities this year were notably lower, with three I2s, and 19 I1s.

Colored-diamond suppliers generally were overbid by retailers and collectors for the Fancy Intense, Vivid, and Deep pinks. The collectors, unconcerned with resale value at this point, were able to place bids high enough to guarantee a win.

Retail jewelers should be prepared to pay more than ever for all pink diamonds this year. “Why not?” asked Alan Bronstein, Aurora Gems, New York, colored diamond expert and regular auction participant. “All the stones were fantastic. They’re all super saturated mixtures of purple and pink, and they’re always the best of the mine for that year.” Bronstein, who again graciously invited JCK gemstone editor Gary Roskin to join him to view the tender, walked away from the auction for the first time in several years with no winning bids. “I believe people paid prices that were beyond the expectations of most dealers like myself.”

Jordan Fine, vice president at Amgad, New York, won two stones, a 1.00 ct. Fancy Deep Pink radiant cut, and a 0.60 ct. Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink radiant cut. But he laments the few that got away, like the 0.51 ct. Vivid Purple-Pink oval and the three emerald cuts, a 0.60 ct. Deep Pink, a 0.61 ct. Intense Pink, and a 0.66 ct. Vivid Purplish-Pink. One stone that everyone was vying for was a 0.69 ct. Fancy Purplish-Red emerald cut. “Color was very strong on that one,” says Fine.

If the Gemological Institute of America graded red diamonds the way they grade pinks, the 0.69 ct. red would probably fall into the Fancy Deep category. By definition, however, red describes this color without the modifier. Other notable stones included Lot #64, a Fancy Deep Pink, which, at 2.02 cts., was just one point shy of the largest pink in the tender, and lot #53, a 1.22 ct. emerald-cut Fancy Vivid Purplish-Pink. The corners were cut large and angled, giving it an early-20th-century look.

“I think that Argyle is making penetration into the psychology that there might be something to this collectibility of these stones,” says Bronstein. To that end, Rio Tinto notes that its pinks are “predicted to run out by 2018.” An end to the world’s only pink diamond mine practically guarantees rarity and increasing value.

The collectibility factor has finally sent prices skyrocketing, and Rio Tinto says stones can exceed $400,000 per carat. Fine knows what he bid on that 69-point red, so his guess at the winning bid is close to $500,000 per carat.