Thinking The Unthinkable

Argyle Diamonds, Australia's large diamond mine, almost certainly will not renew its rough diamond marketing contract with De Beers' Central Selling Organisation when it expires next month, say key executives of the company. An independent Argyle would sell some 40 million carats yearly - most but not all smaller, lower-quality goods - on the open market through its office in Antwerp, Belgium. Argyle is the single largest producer of diamonds used in mass-market jewelry in the U.S., Japan and other Asian countries, and its move toward independence could foreshadow a fundamental change in the way rough diamonds are sold worldwide. One critical element: in a newly competitive market, the bedrock De Beers policy of price control would face real-world challenges of supply and demand. Details of just how Argyle would market its goods were still being worked out at presstime. "Our sales of

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