Every industry on this planet has, had, or will have at least one company that is considered worldwide as the most ideal, prestigious, and desirable brand. Now, these big names don’t just fall out of the sky, but rather, like any other company, begin small, and as a result of something special that they have to offer, a dependable and genuine reputation is made. The Argyle brand, referring to diamonds mined in the famous Argyle mine in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, is like the Coca Cola of cola drinks, the Nike of sneakers, or the Rolls Royce of automobiles. It cannot be denied that the Argyle Corporation utilizes brilliant marketing strategies and has managed to come out with their own grading system comparable to the global GIA certification system. However, the question remains, what is it about Argyle diamonds that has given them this royal status, placing them above practically any other diamond both in prestige and value? Let us explore information gathered over the past few decades regarding Argyle diamonds and where they truly stand as objective stones, graded like any other diamond based on color, clarity, cut, and carat.
The Argyle Tender
Perhaps seen by some as another marketing ploy, the Argyle mine holds an annual tender known as the Argyle Tender where the finest Argyle stones from that year are offered at auction to an exclusive audience. It is no secret that human nature craves acceptance and respect; something that such an event provides if you are lucky enough to be invited. With the basic budget of the average attendee already at higher sums than most other types of diamonds sales, the final prices of the diamonds can easily reach astronomical numbers. The stones at these tenders are absolutely unique and rare, at least in comparison to the remaining stones that are mined at the Argyle mine. How do these highly esteemed stones compare, though to some of the finest stones from competing mines? The following figures speak for themselves.
Argyle Tender Research
The following information has been taken from 24 out of the past 25 tenders, which account for nearly all of the 30 Argyle Diamond Tenders to date. During this period of time 1,278 diamonds totaling 1176.08 carats has been offered, or an annual average of 53.25 diamonds weighing approximately 49.00 carats. According to official Argyle mine information, the mine produces 90% of the world’s pink diamonds and provides the most elite stones at these tenders, but how does the remaining 10% of the world’s pink stones compare to these prestigious tender stones?
Since the earliest days of the Argyle mine, over 750 million carats of rough diamonds have been mined. Out of all of these diamonds, 80% were brown, 16% yellow, 2% grey, 2% white, and less than 1% were pink. It may or may not come as a surprise that despite these straightforward and quite drastic percentages, 92.41% of all the diamonds offered at these 24 Argyle Tenders over the years were pink diamonds. An additional 4.23% accounted for blue diamonds and other colors that were added in 2009, and the remaining 3.36% were red diamonds.
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Naturally, the vast majority of the Argyle Pink Diamond Tender stones were pink. To be exact, 1,181 stones were pink, making up 92.41% of all the tender stones offered since they began. Most of these pink diamonds were either Fancy Intense Pink or Fancy Deep Pink, responsible for 38.34% and 26.84% of all the pink diamonds respectively. Fancy intense pink diamonds have an average of 20 stones annually, with a peak of 42 stones in 2011, and a low of zero diamonds occurring during 1990-1991. The pattern of this particular color group has seen a steady rise over these 24 years. 14 stones on average in the Fancy Deep Pink department are offered annually, peaking in 2000 with 30 stones after an all time low during the years 1990-1994 with zero stones offered. 1995 saw a rise in the offering of this color category, until 2007, when a decline began once again. Another pink diamond group that experienced stability is the Fancy Vivid Pink department, which offered on average 7 stones annually. The peak was in 2010 with 19 stones, and the low of zero stones took place during 1990-1994. Lastly, Fancy Pink, accounting for 172 stones, or 13.46% of the total offering, was offered during 1990-1994, which were the years that the remaining pink categories saw very few stones. It can be assumed from this information that it took Argyle a while to gain the experience necessary for producing stones of such color intensity levels.
Considered the rarest color of all Fancy Color Diamonds, red diamonds are extremely difficult to come by. It is for this reason that out of the 1,278 diamonds offered throughout these 24 tenders, only 16 of them were red diamonds, accounting for 1.25% of all tender stones. An additional 27 stones were Fancy Purplish Red diamonds, which are also extremely rare and desirable. Those accounted for 2.11% of all the tender stones. The first tender to include a red diamond was in 1999. 2003 and 2004 saw one red diamond each, but 2009 is when things really started moving in terms of red diamonds. Since that year, a red diamond has been offered in every single annual tender.
As for stones of other colors, there were only 54 stones throughout these 24 years. That is a mere 4.23% of all the tender stones. 2012 saw the largest selection of blues and yellow with a total of 14 stones whereas 2014 did not see any of these stones at all.
Since 1990, almost half of the stones were considered SI stones. That is an average of 26.50 annual stones with the high of 37 stones occurring in 2007 and the low of 16 taking place in 1990. Apart from the years 1990 and 1995, on average, the annual offering of these SI stones was somewhere in the 20s. I stones accounted for 35.21% of all the offerings, translating into an annual average of 18.75 stones. 1998 saw the peak of 30 stones and 2001 had the low of 9 diamonds. VS diamonds make up the third clarity group, in terms of percentage. These diamonds accounted for an annual average of 6.96 stones. The high occurred in 2012 with 20 stones and a low of 1 in 1990. For the most part though, each year saw 4 to 6 of this type of diamond. Only 1.80% of all stones were of VVS clarity, demonstrating that such Argyle diamonds are a rare occurrence. Furthermore, Argyle did not produce and offering of diamonds in the IF or F clarity categories.
In terms of the diamond carat size that the Argyle Tender stone offerings included, there were many ups and downs. First, there were not many stones under 0.50 carats, then there was an increase. 0.66-carat stones to 0.74 carat stones were also scarce, then more available. 1.50-carat stones and over were also harder to come by. The size group with the largest offering was the 0.50-carat to 0.66-carat group, accounting for 28.87% of all the stones offered. The second to largest group was actually even larger stones: 1-carat to 1.50-carat stones. They made up 26.45% of all the stones. The remaining size groups accounted for less than 10% each at most.
In 2012 the Argyle Mine officially went underground, and offered the largest amount of stones ever to be offered at a tender. A total of 70 stones, including 14 stones with blue shades (the most ever), were offered. This tender also saw the smallest sized stone, the lowest quantity of stones over a carat, and the smallest average-sized stone ever to be offered. These figures indicate a decline in the Argyle production. However, having said that, the demand for such diamonds has consistently soared over the years, adding tremendous value to each and every one of these stones, regardless of its size and color and will most likely continue to do so in the future.