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By Sam Thomas

How are pink diamonds graded?

18 May 2023

20 times more expensive and rare

The most rare and valuable diamonds on earth are sourced right here in Australia.

This is a fabulous fact which is probably not widely understood in this country, and it should be celebrated. We refer of course to Argyle pink diamonds.

Not very many diamond mines are known by name around the world, but the Argyle mine in Australia’s north west is universally, literally synonymous with the planet’s best pink diamonds. Diamonds from this corner of the globe are so rare and so beautiful that they typically cost a lot more than comparable colourless diamonds.

As industry expert, US jeweller Azra Mehdi notes: “They (pink diamonds) are 20 times more expensive than white diamonds of the same size because of their rarity and limited supply.” These remarkable gemstones play by slightly different rules from the rest. They have been unearthed and sold under conditions which differ from other more ‘regular’ diamonds, and they are also subject to non-standard standards when it comes to grading.

How are pink diamonds graded? We discuss below.

Argyle Pink Diamonds

Pink diamonds from the Argyle mine were a supremely rare commodity when being unearthed at the Kimberley location, but are even more so now that the mine has ceased operation.

No more pink diamonds will be sourced from this place, so the world supply of Argyle pink diamonds is limited and finite. 90% of the pink diamonds available around the world originated from the Argyle mine. It’s more than just a mine though, Argyle is a prestigious institution, an exclusive brand, an icon, an enigma, an empire. 

An Argyle pink diamond is in a league of its own.

Browse Argyle loose diamonds

An exclusive grading system

It is no surprise then, that the operators of the Argyle mine decided that the traditional GIA grading could be improved upon when it came to ranking their own pink diamonds.

Argyle created their own chart, and this was a way of setting their diamonds apart, along with the Argyle certificate. This is critical documentation for buyers of Argyle pink diamonds. Many Argyle pink diamonds are also GIA graded for the benefit of the jewellery industry, but the Argyle paperwork is more important; it is the ultimate guarantee of the stone’s exceptional quality, rarity and value.

As the world’s leading supplier of pink diamonds, Argyle saw the need to develop a system for grading them, which would be acknowledged, recognised and respected internationally. The chart was developed with a view to delineate and describe – in particular and in detail –the colour of Argyle’s pink diamonds.

The Argyle Pink Diamond Grading System was born and quickly became accepted as the global yardstick for ranking these most rare precious stones. 

What is the difference between GIA and Argyle Pink Diamond grading?

As mentioned above, the main reason Argyle sought a special system for grading its pink diamonds was so that they could classify the colour of each stone more specifically.

GIA colour gradings are concerned with tone, hue and saturation. Hue refers to the overall colour of a stone. Tone is the extent to which the colour is lighter or darker. Saturation is the intensity or depth of the gem’s colour.

GIA graded diamonds will be classified somewhere between D to Z; there are 27 hues (for all the colours) and they often combine tone and saturation characteristics together with descriptions such as, ‘fancy vivid’ or ‘fancy intense’. Argyle was looking for more distinct terms to talk about its super rare, highly prized diamonds and their incredible colours.

The Argyle system has many more descriptive elements than GIA’s. For instance, pink diamonds have three different hues: PP (purplish pink), P (pink) and PR (pink rose). These are in turn divided into nine intensities, where number one has deep intensity and a nine is lighter.

The Argyle grading system also profiles pink champagne, blue violet and red diamonds – all with additional means of distinguishing their unique and wonderful colours – beyond the parameters of a traditional GIA report. 

Argyle grading certificates

This precise, detailed, individual report appears on the unique certificates issued by Argyle for all of its diamonds.

If you purchase a diamond which has been mined, selected, cut and prepared at Argyle, you will receive one of these documents. An Argyle pink diamonds will also come with a Gem Identification and an Authenticity Document. This is essentially a guarantee with regard to the gemstone’s provenance and chain of custody. Argyle diamonds larger than 0.08 carats are inscribed by laser with a unique lot number to their girdle.

This engraving is only visible under magnification, and connects the stone with the report, in perpetuity.

Some pink diamonds may have originated at the Argyle mine but were finished off elsewhere. They will not have the Argyle certification. These stones, even though they will most likely be of outstanding quality, are not as treasured as those with Argyle certificates. There are only a very limited number of jewellers who are authorised to sell Argyle pink diamonds with certificates; these are known as Argyle Pink Diamond Ateliers. At Paul Bram, we are extremely proud to be an Argyle Pink Diamond Atelier.


Are pink diamonds graded in a different manner to other precious stones?

Yes, Argyle pink diamonds (90% of existing pink diamonds) are graded using the exclusive Argyle system. Many will have a GIA grading as well. The Argyle system also grades other fancy (coloured) diamonds. 

Is it important to have the appropriate documentation if I buy a pink diamond?

It is crucial. Particularly if you purchase an Argyle pink diamond. Moreover, all quality diamonds should have certification, such as a GIA report.

Why are Argyle pink diamonds so much more expensive than most other diamonds?

Argyle pink diamonds are much rarer than all other diamonds. They are amongst the most rare and exquisite objects on the planet. Their supply is limited, they are incredibly magnificent specimens and furthermore, an excellent investment.