Will rare pink diamond auction sparkle for investors?
Pink diamond tender comes as wealthy Asian buyers spur rise in the precious stonesRio Tinto, the world's second-largest mining company, has launched its latest rare pink diamond auction in Australia as prices for the most sought after of precious gems stones are expected to surge. The 2014 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender collection which is going under the hammer comprises 55 diamonds, including 51 pink and purplish red diamonds and four Fancy Red diamonds.Only 13 Fancy Red diamonds have been included in the annual tender in the last 30 years.Diamonds are becoming an increasingly rare item as fewer mines remain in operation and new discoveries dwindle. According to Petra Diamonds there are only around 30 operational diamond mines still working around the world. De Beers estimates there is only a 1pc chance of finding a profitable diamond mine.Rio Tinto controls the market for pink diamonds from the Argyle mine in Australia. Around 65pc of the world's diamond supplies come from the Cullinan mine in South Africa. Jean-Marc Lieberherr, Rio Tinto Diamonds managing director said: "Decades ago, no one would have believed that Australia held the secret of diamonds, let alone virtually the world's entire source of rare pink and red diamonds."The pinnacle of the production from Rio Tinto's Argyle mine, the annual pink tender diamonds are now celebrated internationally as amongst the rarest and most valuable diamonds in the world. We have seen and continue to see sustained demand and price growth for Argyle pink diamonds." Investors have until October 8 to submit bids for the diamonds, which will be showcased in New York, Sydney, Perth and Hong Kong.According to Rio Tinto, the market for pink diamonds is quite separate to white diamonds, and due to their rarity, pink diamonds typically command prices far in excess of white diamonds. The world's biggest certified diamond is the 3,106-carat Cullinan, found at the mine near Pretoria in 1905. It was cut to form the Great Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa, set in the Crown Jewels of Britain. However, most of the new demand for diamonds is now coming from the Asian market.In 2000, the whole of Asia made up 8pc of global diamond jewellery sales, while in 2012 China and Hong Kong alone made up 13pc, with the expectation that this will rise to 18pc by 2017. Bain's 2013 diamond report found that the stones have strong spiritual resonance in China, where diamonds are associated with eternity and high status. And the country's affluent middle class is predicted to grow by 60pc, or 200m, to a total of more than 500m over the next six years..