Diamonds often mark our most unique and important moments, helping us to celebrate the best things in life.
Diamonds preceded human life on Earth, and even dinosaurs. Most diamonds originated in the depths of Earth’s mantle between 1-3 billion years ago. These precious stones found their way to the surface through a series of volcanic eruptions occurring 300-400 million years ago.
Rio Tinto Diamonds
Forty years ago, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, after a decade of searching an area the size of France, two of our geologists – Frank Hughes and Warren Atkinson – saw a small diamond embedded in an ant hill. What those ants had found was one of the richest diamond deposits the world had ever seen. After years of hard work sampling creeks and rivers, following clues in the endless, remote Australian outback, Hughes and Atkinson were standing on top of the pipe that would become the Argyle diamond mine.
Today, we are one of the world's largest producers of rough diamonds from our two mines – Argyle in Western Australia and Diavik in Canada's Northwest Territories. Argyle has been in operation since 1983 and Diavik since 2003.
Our two diamond mines are vastly different in their geographies and conditions, from the icy, subarctic tundra in the north to the savannah-like conditions in remote Western Australia.
We produce the full spectrum of diamonds in terms of qualities, sizes and colours. Our Diavik mine, for example, produces a high proportion of large, white, gem-quality diamonds, traditionally associated with engagement rings, luxury jewellery and collector pieces. Our Argyle mine, by contrast, produces predominantly small, coloured stones of diverse quality – generally destined for the more affordable fashion jewellery market – as well as the rare and highly prized pink diamonds sought after by high-end collectors, designers and diamond connoisseurs.
Our diamonds are not just rare and beautiful – they have an honourable pedigree. We want our customers to be confident that the journey their diamond makes from the mine to the market is a worthy one: that landscapes and cultures are treated respectfully, local communities prosper; safe and fair working conditions are provided and that we deal transparently with our industry partners.
We have partnered with leading international organisations to ensure the integrity and reliability of the wider diamond industry too. We were a founding member and the first mining company to be certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council, which promotes responsible, ethical, social and environmental practices throughout the diamond, gold and platinum jewellery supply chain.
And we have taken an active leadership role in the World Diamond Council, which represents the diamond industry in the Kimberley Process and has established a mechanism for guaranteeing to consumers that diamonds are conflict free.
We were also a founding member of the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), the first organisation to represent diamond producers at an international level. The DPA supports the development of the diamond sector and works to maintain and improve consumer confidence in diamonds.
We also have our own Australian Diamonds™ programme in the US, China and India. This independently audited system, developed with authorised diamond and jewellery manufacturers and retailers, assures consumers that their Argyle diamonds are fully traceable, all the way from the mine.