Whether you want to gift your loved one jewellery or add one to your accessory collection, a diamond will definitely be your top option. Although diamonds are known to be a girl’s best friend, they are also a good investment option, especially diamonds with significantly rarer qualities. They also signify wealth and beauty. While colourless diamonds are the most common types of diamonds and readily available in the market, coloured diamonds like red, blue, orange, and pink diamonds are extremely rare, meaning they may not be readily available in the market.
The pink diamond is so rare that you will get, at most, three pink diamonds for every 2-3 tonnes of mined stone. But, even with this rarity, the colour and quality of diamonds themselves vary, leading to the different classifications, as per the Argyle grading scale. These categories are listed as purplish pink, pink rose, pink champagne, and pink. Pure pink diamonds are the most highly sought after, being the rarest colouration of all pink diamonds.
Pink diamond sources
The pink diamond is the third-rarest type of diamond after red and blue diamonds. This means there are only a few mines around the world where this precious stone is mined. But, even in these mines, the pink diamond is so rare that you have to mine tonnes of stones to get two or three diamonds.
About 90% of pink diamonds come from the Argyle Mines in Western Australia, with the other 10% coming from several mines around the world, such as in Brazil, South Africa, India, Russia, and Canada. Although the majority of pink diamonds are found in the Argyle mines, only 1% of the Argyle diamonds mined in the area are pink diamonds.
The Argyle Diamond Mine
The Argyle Mine in the Kimberly region of Western Australia is one of the world’s largest single diamond producers. This mine is located approximately 550km southwest of Darwin and southwest of Lake Argyle. This mine stretches over 124 acres. It is operated by Argyle Diamond Mines, a Rio Tinto owned joint venture, which also owns Zimbabwe’s Murowa mine and Canada’s Diavik mine. Most of the mine works come from Perth, approximately 1900km but stay in Kununurra settlement camp, which is about 185km from the site.
The Argyle mine is the world’s fourth-largest diamond producing mine, with approximately 8 million carats of diamond annually mined. Although it mainly produces brown diamonds, which is challenging to sell, it is the largest pink diamond source, accounting for 90% of the precious stones. The mine has a diamond sorting and ore processing facility where the diamonds are processed before sending to Perth for further processing.
Production and mine closure
Although diamonds might be forever, the mines certainly aren’t. After almost four decades of diamond production, the Argyle mine was finally closed in 2020. The Argyle orebody was discovered in 1979. The alluvial operation began at the AK1 pipe in 1983, with open-pit mining starting two years later. However, it was not until 2013 that underground operation began at the mine. Since the start of its operation, the Argyle mine has produced about 865 million carats of stones. The peak production from the mine was in 1994, with 42.8 million carats. Unfortunately, the pink diamond accounts for only 1% of the total production.
There is a lot of uncertainty about the future of pink diamond following the closure of Argyle mine. According to a recent estimate, the mine’s closure may lead to about a 10% drop in the world’s diamond production. This means the Australian pink diamonds will become even rarer despite the rising popularity. The gem market is already feeling the strain of the closure of the pink stone source. Many gemstone dealers have anticipated a significant rise in pink diamond prices. The Argyle mines became so deep that manoeuvrability became a challenge, hindering mining activities. Despite the closure, Rio Tinto will continue to monitor the site in the coming years and work with the owners to plant trees and restore the land.
Types of diamonds produced at the Argyle mine
The Argyle mine mainly produced low-quality diamonds, with only 5% being of gem quality. The rest of the diamonds produced from the mine are either near-gem quality or industrial grade. Of the total diamonds mined at Argyle, brown diamonds account for 80%, yellow 16%, white 2%, and less than 1% are pink diamonds. Despite the low production of pink diamonds, Argyle was the most reliable source, accounting for 90% of pink diamonds sourced worldwide.
Other pink diamond sources
Besides Australia, pink diamonds are found in other countries in Africa, Asia, America, and Europe. South Africa is a well-known source of pink diamonds. Diamond mining in the country takes place in North West Province. Recently, South Africa produced about 16,500 carats of diamonds from about two million tonnes of processed stone. However, the high-value pink diamond equated to only 11.36 carats of the total production. However, South Africa is most famous for the Pink Star, fancy vivid pink mined in 1999, and weighed 132.5 carats. It was auctioned at $71.2 million in 2017.
Besides South Africa, pink diamonds are also produced in Brazil, India, and Borneo. These countries produced a notable amount of pink diamonds in the 17th and 18th centuries but now produce just traces of the gemstone. In Brazil, the pink diamond was first discovered in the Minas Gerais region. The Brazilian pink diamond is highly saturated and often referred to as Strawberry Pink because of the intense colour. History also concludes that India was the first country to produce pink diamonds worldwide. The pink gem was first discovered in the Kollur mine in Andhra Pradesh. This mine was also the earliest known noted source of a colourless diamond.
Choosing pink diamonds as a solid investment
Pink diamonds are rare stones that can be used as gifts or investment options. Once diamond ore is mined, it is processed and polished into a fancy stone that has become popular over the years. Although there are many sources of pink diamonds worldwide, the Argyle mine accounted for about 90% of the world’s supply. However, this precious gem is expected to become even rare with this mine’s closure, and the prices will increase exponentially.
For more information about pink diamonds, getting your investment evaluated or classified and for general information, contact IGL today.