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Mining for Pink Diamonds

An incredible discovery was made at the Argyle diamond mine in the East Kimberley region of a remote northern corner of Western Australia a couple of weeks ago. Miners there found a rough pink diamond weighing 12.76 carats, the largest such stone found in the country. Estimated to be worth millions, the diamond has been named the Argyle Pink Jubilee and will be cut and polished over a period of ten days in Perth, before being sold later this year.

The Graff Pink

In 2010, a rare 24.78 carat ‘fancy intense pink’ diamond was sold at Sotheby’s in Geneva for a record breaking $46 million (£29m). Bought by diamond dealer Laurence Graff of Graff Diamonds and named the Graff Pink, the stone became the most expensive single jewel ever sold at auction. The price paid equated to almost £1.2m per carat, a quite remarkable amount of money!

The Argyle Mine

To put all of this into perspective, let’s have a look at some statistics from the Argyle diamond mine. Whilst it is the largest producer of diamonds in the world by volume, it is not the leader by value. That honour goes to the mines in Botswana. Since production commenced at Argyle in 1985, over 760 million carats of diamonds have been produced, with the average size being less than 0.10 carats. That makes the Pink Jubilee start to look rather special.

Diamond mining statistics

Diamond mining is a mind-bogglingly labour intensive operation. In order to find the tiny diamonds amongst the vastness of the outback landscape, massive amounts of ore must be machined out of the ground and processed. At Argyle, as of the end of 2009, the mine grade was 3.6 carats per tonne. That means that for every one thousand kilos of earth dug out and crushed, well under a gram of diamond is found and, of this, statistics say that only 5% will be gem quality! After lying in the earth for around 1,580 million years, the other 95% might go on to become lower quality gemstones, although most will end up only as industrial grade diamond.

The world waits!

So, as the world awaits the finished jewel that will emerge from the lump of pink carbon found in Western Australia, reflect on what a miracle it is that this stone was even found. In the meantime, if you happen to chance across any pink diamonds yourself, be sure to give us a call here at Grand Auctions!

Contact Simon Rufus, diamond grader at Grand Auctions, Folkestone, Kent.

Update: To see what did happen, read our blog The Argyle Pink Jubilee Diamond.