As Rio Tinto celebrates the thirtieth year of the iconic Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, we take a look behind the scenes at the people and processes giving shape to some of the world’s rarest and most precious gems.
Many thousands of miles from the world’s diamond manufacturing hubs, a master diamond polisher sits silent and still, his eyes narrowed in concentration, his senses on high alert. As he “feels” the story of the precious stone on the polishing wheel before him, his colleagues around him are quiet too, respectful of the important connections he is making with the diamond and the significant task he has in front of him.
The intensity of his focus is well justified, for this is no ordinary job and no ordinary workplace. He and his small team of colleagues at Argyle Diamonds’ state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Perth, Western Australia are the only people entrusted to work on the rarest-of-rare of Argyle’s pink diamonds.
Here, they combine their technical and intuitive skills to shape the magnificent gems that will appear in the exclusive annual Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender: highly coveted gems that fetch often record-breaking prices and will be cherished by many as works of art.
Their work is extremely precise, constantly challenging and, at times, stressful: misjudgments on the polishing wheel can reduce a pink diamond’s significant earning potential.
Thankfully, the job is also very rewarding, often enthralling, and the team are well practised at breaking the tension with music and banter – and even the odd burst of karaoke.