When Australia’s famed Argyle mine held its last tender (sale) of pink diamonds in 2021, the buzz was palpable. Film crews descended on the world’s most iconic cities where viewings took place, security was discretely amped up, and the chosen few clamoured to feast their eyes on what would be the last of some of the rarest diamonds known to man. The diamonds themselves were of the most extraordinary shades of pink, red, blue and violet, with the most important specimens given names like Argyle Eclipse, Argyle Stella and Argyle Solaris; and it was the last chance for some of the world’s most revered diamantaires and jewellers to get their hands on these hugely valued stones — by invitation only, of course, and under thrillingly clandestine conditions. To put it in context, throughout the entire 38-year history of the event, all the stones in the tender would have filled up just two champagne flutes. Even the tiniest stones fetched astronomical prices, and many of the bigger stones were whisked away by private hands, some of them possibly never to be seen by the public again.
The Argyle mine has now ceased production, but Tiffany & Co., that most iconic of jewellers, was approached by the East Kimberley mine late last year regarding a final cache of 35 of these luminously-coloured gems, which range from baby pink to red — although in official gemmological speak, the diamond colours come with sweetly specific names like Fancy Intense Pink or Fancy Intense Purplish Pink. Just three of the stones are over one carat in size, which is still considered spectacular for natural pink diamonds.
What is particularly important, however, is that this is the first time the Argyle mine has ever partnered with a jeweller, naming the collection for them and entrusting them to ensure the most special treatment they deserve, which involves a multi-pronged approach. Firstly, Tiffany & Co. will show the loose diamonds to select clients at Tiffany High Jewellery events around the world, discrete occasions where the House’s most VIP clientele are shown some of the brand’s most important jewels, from new creations to storied vintage pieces. On a case-by-case basis, clients may work with the brand to have a bespoke piece created for them using their purchase. A small capsule collection is in discussion using the stones, and Blue Book creations — the house’s one-of-a-kind, high-jewellery pieces named for the ‘blue book’ the brand first sent to customers in 1845 (the world’s first mailed shopping catalogue) may also feature some of these very special natural gems.
“To put it in context, throughout the entire 38-year history of the event, all the stones in the tender would have filled up just two champagne flutes.”
For Tiffany & Co., the fact that Argyle diamonds are of such historically important provenance, is a key one. The brand’s Diamond Craft Journey initiative, one of the very first of its kind in the world, provides clients with the origin of every newly-sourced stone over a certain size set in its jewellery, a novel move that proves that the ‘ingredients’ in their jewellery needn’t be from unknown sources. Human rights are so often abused in the mining industry, and citing the origin of materials is one way of addressing this.
From a now-shuttered mine in Australia to the hands of some of the world’s most discerning clients via one of the most famous jewellery houses on the planet, these are stones with incredible stories to tell — and that’s not even taking into account the one-and-a-half billion years that they took to fully form.