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Last pink diamonds from famous Australian mine go under the hammer


‘Don’t be fooled by the stones I have. I’m still, I’m still Jenny from the block,” Jennifer Lopez once sang, insisting she stay true to her humble Bronx roots.

The $1.2 million pink diamond engagement ring that Hollywood star Ben Affleck gifted her in 2003 was perhaps the most eye-catching trinket J-Lo has flaunted over the years.

Affleck’s choice of ‘rock’ for his ‘Jenny from the block’ would spark a craze for colored diamonds among the mega-rich, with actress Blake Lively and singer Mariah Carey joining this rarefied club.

In Pink: Hollywood star Ben Affleck gave then-fiance Jennifer Lopez a $1.2 million pink diamond engagement ring in 2003

Unfortunately, Lopez and Affleck never made it down the aisle—at least the first time. But now they’ve rekindled their romance nearly two decades later. Maybe J-Lo’s famous pink diamond is coming back.

Even among the ultra spoiled, pink diamonds are not something to throw away in the back of the jewelry drawer.

The reason they are so valued is that there are so few. And they are likely to become even scarcer in the coming years.

Bidding closed yesterday for the last-ever pink diamonds from Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine in the Kimberley, in Western Australia’s scarce northern region.

The mine, which produced 90 percent of the world’s pink diamonds, was shut down last November after nearly 40 years. It had been stripped of asterisks over the years.

Since it opened in 1983, about 250 million tons of ore — enough to fill about 38,000 Olympic swimming pools — have been excavated from the rugged land.

And of the 865 million carats of rough diamonds unearthed, about 1,900 stones a year were pink. According to Rio, this would hardly be enough to fill two champagne glasses.

A collection of 70 of the latest stones to be discovered has been put up for sale in the latest Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender.

This annual event, shrouded in secrecy, has become arguably the most highly anticipated event on the diamond collectors’ calendar since it began in 1984 in Antwerp, the diamond trading capital of the world.

Star asterisk: The 3.47-carat 'intense pink' Argyle Eclipse is the largest diamond of its kind ever offered for sale

Star asterisk: The 3.47-carat ‘intense pink’ Argyle Eclipse is the largest diamond of its kind ever offered for sale

Since May, around 100 dealers, collectors and luxury jewelers, from Liverpool’s Boodles to Perth’s Linneys, have been invited to place secret bids on them via a secure online portal.

The star of the show is the 3.47-carat “intense pink” Argyle Eclipse, the largest of its kind ever put up for sale.

Jody Wainwright, director of the Boodles family business, has been bidding for Rio’s pink Argyle diamonds since the company was invited to participate in the tender in 2014. During that time, he only managed to get six stones.

“It’s a fierce competition,” he said.

‘The basis of diamonds is supply and demand. And if you think about the question, with diamonds it’s what’s beautiful and what’s luxurious and pink for women is just the color.’

He added that pink diamonds are usually bought by savvy investors, rather than celebrities who want to show off.

He said, ‘It’s about the color. Pinks don’t come out much bigger than two carats. So it’s never a mate that holds you back.’

Jetsetter: Rio Tinto Diamonds' sales and business development manager Michelle Sherring

Jetsetter: Rio Tinto Diamonds’ sales and business development manager Michelle Sherring

Pink diamonds represent the more glamorous side of Rio.

For nearly a decade, Michelle Sherring, sales and business development manager of Rio Tinto Diamonds, has traveled the world selling Rio’s pink diamonds.

This year, Covid has limited the world tour to Antwerp, Singapore and Perth, where Sherring is based.

Potential buyers in other key markets such as London and New York had to make do with seeing these diamonds online before deciding to pay millions for them. The buyers tend to be very discreet, Sherring said, meaning they probably won’t be shouting from the rooftops about their purchases.

“As you’d expect with these incredibly rare diamonds, we’re seeing prices stretching into millions of dollars per carat. When you consider that in 38 years our production of pink diamonds would barely fill two champagne glasses, you understand that.’

She added: “Ultimately, we’re talking about the most finite of diamonds – rarity and beauty combined to produce a very, very special diamond.”

Pink diamonds owe their color to an anomaly in the crystal structure that arose when they were formed in the Earth’s crust millions of years ago.

Often referred to as ‘Fancy Colored Diamonds’, some colors are rarer than others.

Red and pink are the most sought after, but blue, green, orange, yellow and champagne diamonds are also highly prized.

On average, pink diamonds are 35 times more expensive than a white diamond. They have also proven to be a fantastic investment, with prices sold in annual tenders rising 600 percent since 2000.

Unfortunately for aspiring collectors, the closure of Rio’s mine in the Kimberley means the world’s main source of pink diamonds is now gone.

“Anyone would love another Argyle, but it’s very, very unlikely to happen,” Sherring says.

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