Australia: world's first pink diamond mine closes, prices may jump

End clap for the world's largest mine of pink diamonds . Discovered in 1979 in Australia, it closed after exhausting its reserves of precious stones, announced the Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto. The Argyle Pink Diamond mine, located in the Australia region, produces over 90% of pink diamonds, known around the world and particularly sought after because of their rarity. Since 1979, it has produced over 865 million carats of rough diamonds, including a small proportion of pink diamonds which, given their rarity, are very valuable, according to Rio Tinto.

To mark the end of its mining, Argyle employees and native landowners attended a ceremony in the closed mine. The mining giant predicts that it will take around five years for the site to be decommissioned and dismantled. "A new chapter will now open as we begin the respectful process of closing the Argyle mine and reclaiming the land, which will be returned to their traditional custodians," said Mine Manager Andrew Wilson.

Over the past two decades, the value of pink diamonds has increased by 500%, Sinead Kaufman, Rio Tinto's general manager for copper and diamond operations, told ABC public television. Currently, these extremely rare gemstones can fetch up to $ 3 million per carat.

The end of the pink diamonds is expected to drive up the price of diamonds, according to jewelers. Diamonds are generally light in color, and the pink color of the diamond remains a mystery. It appears that the stones were exposed to both very high heat and great pressure.

Only seven other white diamonds over 100 carats (one carat equals 0.2 grams) and of equivalent quality were auctioned. In November 2017, the largest diamond ever presented for sale, with its 163.41 carats, was acquired in Geneva for 33.8 million dollars, fees and commissions included, a world record in this category. This is not the record for a diamond, however . In April 2017, the pink "Pink Star" diamond was sold for $ 71.2 million at an auction organized by Sotheby's in Hong Kong.

For this sale, Sotheby's decided, in addition to the absence of an official estimate, not to set a floor price, or reserve price, below which the stone could not be auctioned. The house did not take any collateral either, which is what the main auction players sometimes do to ensure a minimum price.

Collectors will be able to start bidding on September 15, with the starting price set at just one Hong Kong dollar (13 US cents). “Diamonds, like any other object, are not immune to market fluctuations,” admitted Quig Bruning. "Having said that, over the past six months we have seen real demand for jewelry and precious stones."

"It may be a little counter-intuitive, but the market has been very strong" since the start of the pandemic, explains the specialist, seeing stakeholders "who may be looking for a place to place their funds". The diamond will be the subject of a dedicated sale, which collectors can attend in person. The diamond was cut from a 271 carat stone quarried from the Victor Mine, located in the province of New Castle.

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