An Exquisite Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink Diamond, Fancy Intense Purplish Pink Diamond and Diamond Ring/ Earrings. Lot 611 in Jewels & Jadeite, Hong Kong.

In our age of connoisseurship and the quest for extreme rarity, the Argyle pink diamond has come to represent the exceptional and the utterly unique in gemstones. Created billions of years ago by incomprehensibly random natural phenomena, the Argyle pink diamond is a fabulous fluke of nature. Yet, as the Argyle mine in remote Western Australia nears the end of its life in 2020, the pink diamonds that it yields become ever rarer.

The Argyle Diamond Mine...became the foremost producer of pink diamonds, supplying 90% of the world’s total.

Terry Chu, Head of Jewels, Asia, explains the legacy of the Argyle Diamond Mine and spotlights her favorite examples from our collection of Argyle pink diamond jewels in November's Jewels & Jadeite, Hong Kong

The story of the Argyle pink diamond is a modern-day pioneering adventure. In 1979, a group of geologists exploring the rugged, red rock desert terrain of Northwest Australia spotted a speck of light glinting in an anthill. That glimmer turned out to be a diamond, and the momentous discovery changed the course of jewelry history. After lengthy negotiations and preparations, Rio Tinto opened the Argyle Diamond Mine in 1985, presenting the world with a consistent stream of exquisite pink diamonds of incomparable brilliance, tone and beauty for the first time.

Previous discoveries of pink diamonds in India, Brazil and Africa had been sporadic and unpredictable. One of the largest diamond mines in history, the Argyle Diamond Mine more or less doubled global diamond production and became the foremost producer of pink diamonds, supplying 90% of the world’s total. Since opening, the mine has yielded some 865 million carats of diamonds, yet only 0.01% of the entire output has been the celebrated Argyle fancy pink diamonds.

An Elegant Pair of Fancy Pink Diamond, Seed Pearl and Diamond Earrings, Sarah Ho. Lot 606 in Jewels & Jadeite, Hong Kong.

Along with the marvel of the new mine came the realization that these diamonds displayed very particular qualities. The Argyle diamonds were relatively small, but of superlative quality, their fire and their scintillation combined with a breathtaking palette of tender peach, warm bronze, chocolate brown, lilac-tinged pinks, even rarefied violets, reds and blues. Although the color of these diamonds remains something of a mystery, it is known that pink hues are not caused by the rogue presence of other elements, as is the case with other diamond colors, but by a distortion of the atomic structure of the crystals. Argyle pink diamonds have a very particular formation with complex inner graining, so it was quickly realized that they demanded special cutting expertise, especially when preserving or improving the color. Today, just two world-class artisans work in the cutting and polishing ateliers in Perth, ensuring that Argyle pink diamonds are the best they can possibly be.

A Chic Fancy Intense Pink Diamond, Yellow Diamond and Diamond Ring, Designed by Paige Parker. Lot 607 in Jewels & Jadeite, Hong Kong

The finest, rarest stones with the most intense colors, only 1% of all polished pink diamonds are offered to a group of 150 invitation-only buyers selected from a wide spectrum of the industry. These ‘Tender’ stones are madly sought-after, particularly the named ‘hero’ stones, the highlights of each collection. According to Arnaud Soirat, CEO of Rio Tinto Copper and Diamonds, this class of stones has appreciated in price by 500% since 2000, outperforming other investments and equity markets. Now, as the mine prepares to close next year, it is estimated that only 150 Tender stones remain within. Alongside the Tender process, Rio Tinto has built an ecosystem of authorized partners, dealers, ateliers and jewelers whose creations feature Argyle pink diamonds, thus ensuring a carefully considered chain of custody for these stunning stones.

A Conch Pearl, Pink Diamond and Diamond Ring, Karen Suen. Lot 608 in Jewels & Jadeite, Hong Kong.

Perhaps even more significantly, Argyle pink diamonds have fueled today’s hunger for and appreciation of colored diamonds in general. Beforehand, the colored diamond was something of a glass-case gemological specimen, largely divorced from jewelry, and the red diamond was so rare as to be something of a myth. From the 1980s, however, Argyle aroused an intense desire among jewelry lovers, collectors and investors for these rare and beautiful diamonds.

A Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink Diamond and Diamond Ring. Lot 603 in Jewels & Jadeite, Hong Kong.

The appeal of the Argyle pink diamond lies not only in its color, brilliance and rarity, but also in the fact that an Argyle Pink possesses a sophisticated glamour that only an elite connoisseur can appreciate. As the stones are generally small, they are often set to add accents of visual excitement to white diamond jewelry, as in the ring above in Jewels & Jadeite (lot 603), its central fancy vivid purplish pink stone, framed in white baguette diamonds. Or they create a striking contrast with colored stones, as with Muzo emeralds or a Sri Lankan sapphire.

The Argyle pink diamond embodies the perfect fusion of the material and the spiritual.

An Emerald, Pink Diamond and Diamond Necklace. Lot 610 in Jewels & Jadeite, Hong Kong.

It seems certain that the desire for these rarities can only intensify still further with the prospect of mine closure. They are nature’s own "limited edition," with a story that will be told and passed on by those of us who have been privileged to live through and witness the entire life cycle of one of the world’s greatest gemstone discoveries.

The Argyle Diamond Mine in East Kimberly, Australia 

And perhaps this points to one final, intriguing feature of the fascination with the Argyle pink diamond: beyond monetary worth, beyond its rarity and physical beauty, the Argyle pink diamond somehow connects the infinite and the unknowable. It tells of perfection in a world of chaos, and in this, the Argyle pink diamond represents a new level of luxury. Beyond even the wondrous mingling of light and color, it embodies the perfect fusion of the material and the spiritual.