Diamonds Are Forever, but Red Are the Rarest

The 2.42 carat Fancy Purple-Pink Argyle Avaline and the 1.14 carat Fancy Red Argyle Isla
As the head of jewelry in Asia for British auction house Bonhams, Graeme Thompson is used to handling beautiful diamonds on a daily basis. Yet he’s only ever held a red diamond, once, about 5 years ago: “Red diamonds are the rarest of them all and whoever gets to hold one in his hand is very lucky indeed.”

Last Friday, Rio Tinto unveiled in New York in front of a select group of collectors and connoisseurs the world’s second largest Fancy Red diamond, and the largest it has ever offered. It is part of the mining company’s annual pink diamonds tender from the Western Australian Argyle mine.

The 2.11 carat polished radiant cut diamond, known as The Argyle Everglow, is “half the size of a one cent coin but I expect it to sell for over $10 million,” predicts Tobias Kormind, Managing Director of, Europe's largest online diamond jeweler.

Thompson said he was not comfortable making a prediction on price without having seen the stone, but said the determining factors affecting value will be “the carat weight, the strength of the color, how red it is, and the clarity. The difference in value between a stone that is very clean and one that has inclusions is huge.”

Fetching high prices
To put the Argyle Everglow into perspective, the largest red diamond in the world, which was discovered in Brazil, is the 5.11 carat Moussaieff Red, owned by jeweller Moussaieff. Significant red diamonds that have sold at auction include a 2.09 carat heart-shaped Moussaieff Fancy Red diamond ring sold at Christie's in 2014 for $5m, while a 1.92 carat Fancy Red radiant cut diamond, sold for $3.2 million in 2013, also Christie's.

“The color red is essentially a highly, highly saturated vivid pink, where the body color goes beyond the pink color range, and there can be modifying color to that red, like pinkish red, orangey red, brownish red, and all of these contributing factors will then determine the value of the diamond. A Fancy Red is the rarest of all diamonds. To hold a red diamond in your hand and look at it and say it’s
a truly a red stone without any modifying colors, very few people on this planet will ever be able to do that,” Thompson explains, noting such red diamond will appeal to Chinese buyers “as it is the most auspicious of colors in China.“

In 2013, the Argyle Phoenix, a 1.56 carat Fancy Red diamonds on offer sold for more than $2 million to a Singapore-based jeweller, the highest per-carat price paid for any diamond ever produced from Rio's Argyle mine in Western Australia.

Mine to Close soon or Rare/Hard to Find
In the 33-year history of the Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender there have been less than 20 carats of Fancy Red certified diamonds sold, and Argyle Pink Diamonds Manager Josephine Johnson said The Argyle Everglow, which was unearthed in 2016, represents “rarity within rarity and will drive global demand from collectors and connoisseurs in search of the incomparable.”

“The Argyle Everglow is a diamond trifecta in terms of size, color and clarity. It fits an unusual three criteria – it’s rare to have a diamond of that size, the fancy red color, and this level of beautiful clarity,” adds Robyn Ellison, Communications Manager for Rio Tinto.

The Argyle Diamond Mine produces 90% of the world’s rare pink diamonds, which represent less than 0.1% of the mines annual production.

Each year, the mine offers for sale, through a closed tender, a collection of its best diamonds. This year, buyers will have a choice of 58 diamonds weighing a total of 49.39 carats. They include five “hero” diamonds selected for their unique beauty and named to ensure there is a permanent record of their contribution to the history of the world’s most important diamonds:

The collection will be showcased in Hong Kong and Perth with bids closing on October 11.  “As Rio Tinto’s Argyle Diamond Mine in Australia is looking to close in 2020/2021, it is unlikely that a diamond as rare as this will come out of the mine again,” Ellison noted.