The Kimberley’s world-renowned Argyle mine may be a thing of the past but that hasn’t stopped a WA company unearthing what is believed to be the biggest pink diamond discovered in the past 300 years.
ASX-listed explorer and miner Luscapa – headquartered in Subiaco – has an interest in the Lulo and Mothae mines, located in Angola and Lesotho.
The former recently produced an astonishing 170-carat pink diamond that has been dubbed the “Lulo Rose” and which is clarified as a 2a stone, meaning it has few impurities.
While it’s not possible to value the diamond until it is cut, a 59.6 carat diamond known as the Pink Star fetched $US 71.2 million at auction in Hong Kong in 2017, after originally being mined by De Beers in South Africa in 1999. It measured 132.5 carat in the rough.
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Luscapa Managing Director/CEO Stephen Wetherall, previously Chief Financial Officer for Kimberley Diamonds, said Lulo was a “gift” – and clearly it’s one that keeps giving.
The mine has also produced a whopping 404-carat diamond known as the “4th February Stone.”
“Lulo is an exceptional alluvial resource and is truly a gift. We are once again made very proud by yet another historic recovery,” Wetherall said.
“We too look forward to our partnership progressing its exploration effort, where we are now bulk sampling the priority kimberlites, in search for the primary kimberlite sources of these exceptional and high-value diamonds.”
Luscapa operates Lulo in partnership with partners Endiama (Angola’s national diamond company) and Rosas & Petalas. The mine has been in production since 2015.
It’s believed the Lulo Rose is the biggest pink diamond found since the 182-carat pale pink Daria-i-Noor, which is now part of the Iranian Crown Jewels. It came into the possession of the Nader Shah of Iran after he invaded Northern India and occupied Delhi – in exchange for returning the the crown of India to the Mughal emperor, Muhammad, Nader Shah took possession of the entire fabled treasury of the Mughals, including Daria-i-Noor.
Rio Tinto’s famed Argyle mine, which operated from 1983 until late 2020, produced more than 860 million carats of diamonds and accounted for more than 90 per cent of the world’s pink diamond supplies.
The “Fitzpatrick Pink”, which emerged from Argyle in the late 1980s, was sold last year for a record $2.2 million in an online sale last year.
Pink diamonds come in a range of varieties: faint pink, very light pink, light pink, fancy light pink, fancy pink, fancy intense pink, fancy vivid pink and fancy deep/dark pink. The more vivid in intensity, the more rare the diamond is.
It’s still not completely clear how pink diamonds are formed but scientists have theorised the pink colouration is a result of the diamonds being subjected to enormous pressures when they are formed. In the case of Argyle diamonds, there is a school of thought that a seismic shock propelled colourless diamonds to the surface and altered their molecular structure.
While Rio Tinto has estimated the value of pink diamonds increased 500 per cent over the past 20 years, there is still a difference between unearthing a giant stone and it finding a commercial foothold.
Indeed, Argyle’s biggest ever pink diamond – The Pink Jubilee – was unearthed in 2012 and measured 12.76 carats. But when the diamond was being cut it was found to have a major internal fault line and it was eventually donated to the Melbourne Museum.