Argyle Still in the Pink

Forty-eight pink diamonds, ranging in size from .49 ct. to 2.07 cts. and individually packaged in presentation boxes, were waiting for some of the 200-plus invited guests at a hotel in midtown Manhattan (unnamed at the request of Argyle) in September. The hotel was the U.S. venue for the annual Argyle Pink Diamond Tender—a silent-bid auction of the most important pink diamonds to come out of the Argyle Diamond Mine in Australia this past year. Colors covered all of the important fancy color ranges including Fancy Intense, Fancy Deep, and Fancy Vivid Pink, with a rare Fancy Purplish-Red as well. JCK was there to photograph a few of these fabulous pinks, accompanied by Stephen Hofer, author and colored diamond expert.

The pinks were on a tour of seven cities: New York, Hong Kong, Perth, Tokyo, London, Antwerp, and finally Geneva. More than 40 of the 200 invitees placed a bid in the tender. Actual bids could be made on any number of combinations of diamonds: Participants could bid on individual stones, groups of stones, or even on the entire layout.

David Fardon, Argyle’s manager of sales and marketing, said competition was strong, with many stones receiving multiple bids. Of the 40-plus bidding participants, 18—from the United States, Europe, the Far East, Japan, and Australia—walked away with prizes.

Since most bids are kept secret, accurate pricing information is impossible to ascertain, but one estimate for these types of goods is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per carat.

“One of the things that stands out in my mind is that when Argyle says, ‘This is the best of our yearly production,’ that’s not an overstatement of fact,” says Hofer.

“The 2.04-ct. was one of the top stones, because of its unique hue—Fancy Vivid Purple-Pink,” says Hofer. “Some talk about this color as being ‘bubblegum’ or ‘lilac’ pink,” he explained. “The 91-pointer was a red. In terms of saturation of what I’ve measured, comparing it to the 95-pointer [a Fancy Purplish-Red that sold for $926,000/ct. in 1995], it has the same amount of red, but more purple.

“Another important stone was the 73-point emerald cut,” Hofer added. “The level of saturation put it close to Vivid, but it was still dark enough to call it Fancy Deep. And because it was an emerald cut, you really saw a hot pink or shocking pink color.”

When the bids were opened in Geneva, it took five hours to assess the offers and allocate the goods. “The results were outstanding, confirming that the global market for pink diamonds is very strong,” says Fardon.

“It was tremendous,” says Hofer. “It really perpetuates the fact that these stones are rare. There are different levels of strength of color, flavors of color in the pink hue range, and this year’s tender had the best of the best of the grade ranges that GIA offers. It was a stunning display of Mother Nature.”