b'THE STATE OF THE THE JEWELRY THE COLOREDMAJORS DIAMOND DESIGN STONE MARKETINDUSTRYThese are the six hero diamonds of the 2019 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, the annual sale Rio Tinto holds of the finest diamonds from its mine in Western Australia.HIDDEN GEMS Its the end of anFancy Color Research Foundation, a nonprofit There are only a few mines in the world no- that promotes the transparency and trade of table for producing exceptional natural coloredera for the colorednatural colored diamonds.diamonds. diamond business.The first step is to send the stone to a gem-Rio Tintos Argyle Mine in Western Australia isological lab, like GIA, to find its color group. The known for its breathtaking pink and red diamonds. Scott Westvalue of a colored diamond is based in part on the The most exceptional are showcased during theof LJ Weststrength of its color, which can range from light companys annual Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender. Diamonds on thefancy to fancy to fancy intense to fancy vivid.The 2019 assortment of stones, collectivelyThe stronger the color, the more valuable the dubbed The Quest for the Absolute, features 64pending closure ofdiamond.diamonds weighing a combined 56.28 carats. the Argyle MineThe next step is to analyze other important The best of the best, in terms of size and color,visual elements including color dispersion and are called hero diamonds and are the only stonesundertone, says Chen.upon which Rio Tinto bestows individual names. Color dispersion refers to how color is distrib-The heroes of this years tender include the Argyle Enigma, a 1.75-car- uted throughout a stone; an even coloring will boost its value. Dia-at modified radiant-cut fancy red diamond, and the Argyle Elysian, amonds with patchy coloring or a colorless frame will be worth less.1.20-carat modified cushion-shaped fancy vivid pink. Undertones can affect the value of a colored diamond as well, but Rio Tinto has been holding the Argyle Pink Diamonds Tenderthey vary from stone to stone and the effect on value can depend every year since 1984, but the sale is nearing its final act. The miningsomewhat on personal preference.company plans to close Argyle in 2020, when economically viableA pink diamond with purple undertones, for example, tends to be diamond resources will be exhausted, it said.more aesthetically pleasing and can be sold at a premium, whereas a Its the end of an era for the colored diamond business, saysblue diamond with gray undertones may be discounted.Scott West, a third-generation wholesaler specializing in natural col-ored diamonds and an owner of LJ West Diamonds Inc. They were aAUCTION STARSbig part of the beginning.Jewelry auctions always create a bit of the buzz in the industrya Wests family was there from the start. crowded room of bidders jostling to raise their paddles and place win-His father, Larry West, traveled to Australia in the 1980s to visit thening bids on some of the most beautiful gems and jewelry in existenceArgyle Mine, long before it was as well-known in the industry as it is today. even though sometimes pieces fall short of their sellers expectations. Larry saw potential in the mines pink diamonds and his companyNatural colored diamonds, however, rarely run into that problem.has since accumulated one of the largest collections of natural col- To date, the top five most expensive jewels ever sold at auction are ored diamonds in the world. colored diamondsthree pink and two blue (see chart on page 48).Scott describes the closing of the mine as bittersweet, referring toIn the No. 1 slot is the CTF Pink Star, a 59.60-carat Type IIa pink it as a living part of the business. diamond, sold for $71.18 million, or $1.2 million per carat, to Chow On the bright side, the mines closure means skyrocketing pricesTai Fook at Sothebys Hong Kong jewelry auction in April 2017. for pinks, which he believes will slowly evaporate from the market. Mined by De Beers in Africa, the oval mixed-cut diamond is the larg-Scott boils it down to basics: supply and demand. The less avail- est internally flawless, fancy vivid pink diamond GIA has ever graded.able something is, the more people will pay to have it. The second-most expensive jewel ever sold at auction is the Op-penheimer Blue, a rectangular-cut 14.62-carat fancy vivid stone set PRICE CHECK into a platinum ring by Verdura.So, how do you price a one-of-a-kind marvel of nature?An anonymous buyer paid $57.5 million, or about $3.9 million per Well, that can be a bit complicated, says Miri Chen, CEO of thecarat, for the Oppenheimer Blue at Christies Geneva in May 2016, Continued on page 4846 STATE OF THE MAJORS 2019'