From the outside, Rio Tinto’s Argyle Pink Diamonds cutting and polishing HQ looks like any other office block in the Perth CBD. But behind the glass and steel facade glinting in the harsh West Australian light is a top-secret, high-security facility where light plays on very different surfaces: pink diamonds, arguably the rarest, most sought-after gemstones in the world.
This is no over-the-counter gem browse. We are to preview the sumptuous $30m collection of stones that comprise what’s known in the trade as the Tender – an invitation-only opportunity for connoisseurs to bid for a small cache of premium jewels. Only about 50 carats, or 12 grams, are offered for sale in the Argyle Tender each year. This year ’s Tender, held in August and September, with viewings for select clients in Sydney, New York and Hong Kong (Akie Abe, the wife of the Japanese PM, who recently accompanied her husband to Australia on a state visit, was one) comprises 55 diamonds weighing 47.64ct in total. Argyle pink diamonds are graded according to a palette of 38 colours, from pale pink through purple hues to fiery red. Rarest of all are reds and blues.