A Complete Timeline of the Formation of Pink Diamonds
Argyle certified pink diamonds are certainly one of the most precious and rare phenomena on this earth, and to possess one is a coup for the owner. Aside from their monetary worth as an investment option, the sheer unlikeliness of their existence, given all they go through to form, is arguably one of the most impressive, romantic and mystery-laden scientific narratives to be tied to such a prize.
Diamonds have long fascinated those from every walk of life; loved by some for their captivating sparkle, some for their monetary worth and investment potential and others for their scientific story. Regardless of why they’re loved, their allure has never been in question. With the Argyle Mine responsible for 90% of the Earth’s pink diamonds and due to its close in 2020, there has never been a better time to appreciate them to their fullest and all the impossible odds that they beat just to exist.
Diamonds are made of pure carbon; the chemical element upon which all life is based. They form deep in the earth’s crust, approximately 120-200km under the surface and can take anywhere between 1-3.3 billion years to form – up to 75% of the earth’s current lifespan at 4.54 billion years. Diamonds are only formed when pure carbon is subjected to extremely high temperatures and pressures simultaneously. Diamonds require very specific conditions in which to form, preferring temperatures between 1050° – 1200°C and pressures of up to 55 Kilobars. While diamonds themselves are rare, the birth of them in the first place is itself an extremely rare event.
When volcanic activity pushes magma upwards through a diamond deposit, they’re able to catch a ride on the flow towards the earth’s surface. As the tunnel of magma cools, it changes most commonly into Kimberlite – a type of igneous rock – and much less frequently into Lamproite. These are referred to as Kimberlite or Lamproite pipes.
The only economically viable Lamproite pipe being mined in the world, belongs to the Argyle diamond mine and is often simply called the Argyle Pipe.
Once these diamond studded pipes of volcanic rocks have been discovered, they must be extracted and collected. The Argyle diamond mine uses various mining techniques including both open-cut and block-cave mining to harvest them, which all involve blasting the ore of the Lamproite pipe and collecting the fallen chunks of raw ore to be taken for processing. They employ the very latest technology to ensure the safety of their mining employees, and at no point during the mining or processing of diamonds does Argyle do anything less than uphold the highest standards for employees’ safety, inclusivity and human rights.
The large chunks of ore are then fed into an ore crusher, which breaks it down into small, gravel-like rocks. These are then scrubbed to remove any loose material, and sifted through a screen to remove anything smaller than 1.5mm – a size too small to be of interest. After scrubbing they are placed in a cyclonic chamber which uses force and a special liquid to tumble the gravel and reveal the rocks that are of a higher density and therefore contain diamonds. These higher density rocks are then put through the ‘recovery’ process; a series of scientific tests that are specifically tuned to diamonds. Once diamonds have been identified, they go on to the distribution phase.
Once collected in the recovery process, diamonds are washed in an acid solution before being weighed, rinsed and packed – ready for transport to buyers of various natures. In the case of many pink diamonds, they make their way to the annual Argyle Pink Diamond Tender. This is an exclusive, invitation only event run by Argyle where the stones are bid for and sold before moving on to a gem cutter to prepare for the ultimate reveal.
Cutting & Polishing
The shape, size, inclusions and colour patches of a rough diamond are all things that ultimately dictate the final cut of your diamond. The cutter will first plan the cut, taking into consideration all of the above variations to get the best out of the incredibly rare stone. After thorough planning, shaping and occasional slicing with a special machine will occur. The diamond is then carefully faceted, before the final stage of polishing readies the diamond for its reveal as the sparkling crystal we know so well.
These diamonds are now in their final and familiar glittering form and may go on to live many different lives. Some will be held in secrecy for investment purposes, others displayed in museums and some will be set in stunning pieces of jewellery. Many pink stones are so famed, they have their own names and their histories can be traced back through the ages, such as The Pink Star.
Every moment of a diamonds journey is steeped in wonder. It is staggering to think how many rare and unlikely events must occur for diamond formation. But few journeys are as rare as the Argyle certified pink diamond. Even though 90% of the world’s pink diamonds come from the Argyle mine in Western Australia, this is still an astonishingly minute number of pink diamonds. They only account for approximately 0.13% of the mines total production, and therefore the occurrence of pink diamonds globally is infinitely small, and with the Argyle mining operations due to finish in 2020; their allure to collectors and investors is obvious. Those that possess them certainly hold not only a worthwhile investment, but a priceless worldly artefact.