Hand-picked guests gather in Hong Kong to see rare pink diamonds

Mon Sep 9, 2013 1:37am EDT
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By Alexandra Hoegberg

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The Argyle Pink Diamond Tender, showcasing the finest colored diamonds from Rio Tinto Ltd's mine in northwest Australia, opens its doors to about 100 carefully selected gem enthusiasts in Hong Kong this week.

Jewelry makers, connoisseurs, collectors and investors - by invitation only - will view the 64 diamonds of this year's tender, which have a combined weight of 54.99 carats.

Besides 58 gems in various hues of pink, the catalogue features three blue and three exceedingly rare "Fancy Red" diamonds, one the biggest ever to be displayed at the tender.

Rio Tinto believes the United States will remain its key market for diamonds but China is growing fast as the increasing affluence of the country's middle-class drives up demand.

"The Chinese market is about five percent. We do expect, through the course of 2020, for that to be over 20 percent," said Alan Davies, chief executive of Rio Tinto's diamonds and minerals division. "So there's good growth there."

Tiffany & Co said last month that demand for gems in China had lifted its global sales in the latest quarter, leading the luxury jeweler to raise its profit forecast for the year.

Pink diamonds comprise just 0.01 percent of the Argyle mine's total production but they make up more than 90 percent of the pink diamonds on the global market.

The rarity of the gems pushes up the price to about 20 times that of white diamonds. Argyle's diamonds in the category sell for more than $1 million per carat.   Continued...

A Rio Tinto pink diamond is displayed along with tweezers and a magnifier in Hong Kong September 6, 2013. REUTERS/Bobby Yip