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Articles from DIAMONDS BY COLOUR - PINK (29 Articles)

Image courtesy: Garry Holloway, Holloway Diamonds
Image courtesy: Garry Holloway, Holloway Diamonds

Down Under Gemstones: The Aussie Diamond

Australia currently ranks as the world’s third-largest producer of diamonds by weight and is estimated to supply 20-million carats this year, mostly from the underground operation at the Argyle mine. MEGAN AUSTIN reports.

Australian diamonds were first recorded in 1851 at Bathurst in New South Wales while prospectors were mining for gold. Significant alluvial discoveries followed in other parts of the state including Copeton, Bingara and Cudgegong. Gradually, more diamonds were found in the states of Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

The Australian Aborigines’ association with diamonds stretches back much further. According to indigenous legend, diamonds were derived from the scales of a barramundi as it leapt out of the water to flee the nets of local fisherwomen. These scales fell into the water and formed diamonds of all colours in a deposit known as the Barramundi Gap.

Today, the Barramundi Gap marks the location of the Argyle diamond mine. Located in the Kimberley region of north-western Australia, the Argyle mine is the largest supplier of naturally-coloured diamonds in the world. True to the legend, many colours are found here, including white, champagne, blue and pink – the most coveted of all.

Discovered in 1979, Argyle supplies about 20 per cent of the world’s natural diamond production by volume and more than 90 per cent of the world’s pink diamonds. Of the hundredsofmillionsofdiamondsthatare produced by Argyle each year, only 5 per cent are gemstone quality, 45 per cent are cheap gemstone and the remainder are industrial grade. Each year, the best 60 or so pink diamonds are cut and polished in Western Australia and then sold in the annual Pink Diamond Tender, a prestigious, invitation-only event where buyers compete for diamonds in a sealed bid.

Argyle pinks frequently display more intense colour than material from other localities such as Brazil, South Africa and India. This intensity is thought to be due to a feature called graining – Australian stones possess a profusion of densely-packed pink parallel grain lines whereas other examples tend to have more subtle, widely-spaced grain lines. Another point of difference is the cutting process. Argyle rough is heavily naated or twinned, meaning that it takes more time to cut than a diamond from elsewhere. Some experts claim that cutting Australian rough can take up to twice as long. Additionally, up to 90 per cent of the rough may be lost due to imperfections such as fractures and cavities.

Regardless of origin, all natural, untreated gemstone-quality diamonds share the same physical, chemical and optical properties. The most notable is diamond’s hardness of 10 on Mohs scale, making it extremely durable and suitable for everyday wear in any setting.

When you buy an Australian diamond, you are supporting Australia and its workers. Argyle stones are valued at a premium so sourcing an Argyle diamond with a lot number is advised. Another reason to buy an Australian diamond is the strict legal and regulatory structure that ensures workers are treated well and the impact of mining upon our environment is minimised. In fact, a participation agreement exists between Argyle and the Gija and Mirriwung people, who are the traditional owners of the Argyle land, to make sure they benefit from the mine’s operations for generations to come.

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Tuesday, 17 September, 2019 08:36am
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