a woman talking on a cell phone© Provided by South China Morning Post Publishers Limiteda woman talking on a cell phone© Provided by South China Morning Post Publishers Limited

One of the last annual tenders of coloured diamonds by Rio Tinto is expected to draw keen interest from Chinese collectors and dealers as the company is closing the world’s largest mine for these “flukes of nature” in 2020.

On display at a five-star hotel in Hong Kong until next week are 63 pieces of Gemological Institute of America-graded diamonds with a combined weight of 51.48 carats.

Only 100 customers – primarily collectors and rare gem dealers – have been invited to two-hour private viewings, and place sealed bids by October 10 in the 34th Argyle pink diamonds tender.

A preview was arranged by the Anglo-Australian company in Sydney earlier in July, and more will be held in New York later.

“Because of their love of red diamonds, which are the most valuable, it would not surprise me if we had a strong representation from [mainland] China and Hong Kong,” Josephine Johnson, Rio Tinto Diamonds’ global marketing director told the South China Morning Post in an exclusive interview. “There are only a few hundred red diamonds in existence in the whole world.”

She declined to put an estimate on how much the tender could fetch, saying the highly collectible gems, similar to art work, are hard to value as they are unique.

a hand holding a book© Edward Wong

The record per carat price for a pink diamond is US$2.2 million, which was set in 2010 for a 5-carat gem, while a 2.09-carat red diamond fetched an all-time high of US$2.4 million in 2014, both of which were sold in Hong Kong.

Asia, particularly Hong Kong and China, accounts for roughly half of Rio Tinto’s diamond sales, Johnson said.

Discovered 39 years ago, the Argyle diamond mine in Australia supplies over 90 per cent of pink diamonds sold globally, but Rio announced in March this year that it will be closed in 2020, as it will be unable to sustain profitable production.

“Why we have got such intense…

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