FOR almost 30 years Rio Tinto’s Argyle diamond mine has been the world’s only reliable source of pink diamonds, and a new expansion project will see it hold that title for years to come.

Argyle, in WA’s remote East Kimberley, has produced more than 800 million carats of rough diamonds since it was commissioned in 1985.

The mine is one of the largest suppliers of diamonds in the world; the majority of gems from Argyle are cheaper white or champagne diamonds that are sold rough to customers in India, the US and China.

While pink and red diamonds only make up a tiny percentage of the mine’s production, Argyle has become synonymous with the rare and illustrious gems – producing about 90 per cent of the world’s pink and red diamonds.

The annual Argyle pink diamond tender has become one of the most important events on the diamond market calendar, and is a chance for the world’s leading jewellers and diamond suppliers to view and purchase the year’s brightest finds.

“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,” Rio Tinto Diamonds managing director Jean-Marc Lieberherr said.