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January 18, 2020

Diamonds aren’t forever: the party’s nearly over for Australia’s most successful luxury export

Diamonds are the most portable form of wealth on the planet. But despite this – or perhaps because of it – no one in the business will tell you how they’re actually transported. At Argyle’s HQ in Perth, which takes the world’s newest pink diamonds on a Lady Gaga-style global tour each year before launching a tender for their sale, nobody will say a word about how the stones are moved. Do they go by private jet with an army of security? By unobtrusive courier on a commercial flight? In a brown paper envelope in the mail? After all, when celebrity jeweler Harry Winston donated one of the world’s most famous diamonds, the 45.5-carat blue Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958, he sent it by simple registered mail. The postage was worth S2.44, the diamond today is insured for $250 million.

Conversely, when the 68-carat Taylor-Burton diamond was delivered to Elizabeth Taylor in Monaco after her husband Richard Burton purchased it for her in 1969, it went in a briefcase carried by a nondescript man in a suit, while two decoy briefcases were carried on different flights. As well as the diamond, the real briefcase contained three pairs of 50-cent nylon stockings, which Elizabeth couldn’t buy in Europe and which, apparently, thrilled her as much as the bauble.

We must presume that Argyle pink diamonds employ a third – unknown – mode of transport. What we do know, however, is that these diamonds are, gram for gram, Australia’s most valuable luxury export by far, and that between June and September of each year they travel en masse – up to 60 individual stones, the best of the previous year’s production – to four or five cities, where special invitees can make appointments to see, touch and plot to own them. And then, after the tour, they’re sold at the Argyle Pink Diamond Tender. Participants can place only one bid per stone, and only the ultimate buyer knows the selling price.

Read more about the impending closure of the Argyle mine in the Kimberley on the Sydney Morning Herald website HERE

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