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Leibish & Co

Monday, November 16, 2015

Leibish Wins 26 Argyle Pink Diamonds As Overall Results Appear Lackluster

The five "hero" diamonds from the 2015 Argyle Pink Tender, including the Argyle Prim,” a 1.20 carat Fancy Red pear shaped diamond

Rio Tinto owner of Australia’s Argyle Mine is always tight-lipped when it comes to the results of its annual tender of rare pink and red diamonds. But their public statements are always upbeat. Not so much this year. 

It’s always difficult to gauge the results of the private sale as the mining company refuses to release figures but the annual press release provided even fewer details of this year’s sale than in prior years.

The 2015 Pink Diamonds Tender collection of 65 rare pink and red diamonds weighing a total of 44.14 carats from its Argyle diamond mine “delivered an exceptional result, reflecting global demand and sustained price growth,” according to a press release from the Rio Tinto mining company. However, statement falls short of defining why it was “exceptional.”

About 90 percent of the entire world supply of rare pink and red diamonds comes from the Argyle diamond mine in the remote east Kimberley region of Western Australia. The Argyle pink diamond is one of the few gemstones identified by its unique origins with a color range. In recent years, the annual sale of these gems included blue diamonds from the Argyle mine in a separate tender.

In addition to their beauty, rarity and provenance, the mine’s output of these diamonds is near its capacity and the mine is scheduled to close in 2020. So the diamonds being sold now will likely become even more valuable.

A “tender” in this instance is basically a blind bid. Invited buyers come in and view the diamonds in undisclosed locations in Sydney, Hong Kong and New York. Each diamond is unadorned in identical boxes with basic details listed, including carat weight, shape and color. Each person places a bid on the diamonds they are interested in buying without knowing their estimate or what others bid. It can be quite a stressful situation for buyers. 

Five of the 30 diamonds purchased by Leibish & Co. at the Argyle Pink Tender (26 pink and red, and four blue)

“You need to fully understand the market prices and the value these stones possess. You have only a short time to assess each of the stones and all the pressure of competing against all the top diamond buyers that exist,” said Leibish Polnauer, founder of Leibish & Co., which sells fancy colored diamonds and jewelry to consumers and the trade through its eCommerce website

The Israeli company takes part in the bidding annually and this year it appears they are the big winner as it managed to place a successful bid on 26 pink and red diamonds, ranging from approximately 0.15-carat to 0.75-carat, about 40 percent of the total available. It also successfully bid for four blue diamonds. 

When asked how he managed to win such a large percentage of the tender diamonds, Polnauer said it’s important to understand the gem, the market and the growth of its value so his customers can profit from the gem. 

“I have to bid very high prices. The tricky part is understanding the stone’s potential. The highest bid wins, so I need to adequately assess the market and not bid too high.”

Rio Tinto did disclose who won the most valuable diamond in the 2015 collection, although it did not disclose the price. The “Argyle Prim,” a 1.20 carat Fancy Red pear shaped diamond, was won by Sciens Coloured Diamond Fund II BV, for an undisclosed value. It was one of the five most valuable diamonds offered in the sale, which Rio Tinto referred to as “Hero” diamonds.

The others who placed winning bids remain unknown.

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