The Australian Pink Diamond heist that changed everything

The Australian Pink Diamond heist that changed everything
PUBLISHED 17/03/2023

There’s plenty of glamour and mystery surrounding pink diamonds. Tiny, dazzling and enormously valuable, they’re a very attractive, high performance investment.

Pink Diamonds have steadily gaining value across the decades and delivering a history of stellar performance even when more traditional investments have faltered. And while their investment value is well known, until recently relatively few people were aware of a mysterious pink diamond heist that happened here in Australia…and how it has affected the way pink diamonds are valued, bought and sold to this day.

Clues, intrigue and a lack of polish

Western Australia’s Argyle pink diamond mine operated between 1985 and 2020. For many years it was the largest producer of pink diamonds in the world and it still carries a reputation with many as being the source of the world’s finest. Of course dealing in the mining of something as precious as pink diamonds, security is always a priority. So back in 1987 when former detective and then head of Argyle security Richard Corfield was given a tip that rough, unpolished Argyle pink diamonds had been showing up in Antwerp, he knew that something didn’t add up. The Argyle mine, after all, took care of its own cutting and polishing at its own facility in Perth. Rough, uncut stones were simply never released for sale.

Dirty business close to home

It didn’t take long before Corfield was tipped off about a newly-opened diamond works in Perth where a jeweller was about to polish some pink diamonds he claimed were sourced from Switzerland. Corfield called in and asked for a look. When the rough pink diamonds were tipped from their envelope, what came with them was a small helping of what Corfield instantly recognised as Argyle dust. This was something that was simply never supposed to happen, as Argyle diamonds at the time were acid washed while still in the Kimberley and never left the mine site dirty. Something grubby was definitely going on, and it smelled distinctly of an inside job.

Decades in the solving

Testing proved that the unwashed pink diamonds originated in Argyle. There followed an investigation that spanned many years and implicated a jeweller, a horse trainer well known to the police, key mine security personnel and even a Swiss gem collector. An alleged lack of police cooperation slowed down a case that would eventually lead to several investigations, court cases and even a Western Australia royal commission into police corruption. It took a confession by the ex-wife of Argyle’s former head of security to finally blow the case open, implicating her former husband, a high-profile horse trainer and even members of the police force. Unfortunately by the time this much had been revealed, most of the stolen pink diamonds had disappeared forever, despite international enquiries as to their whereabouts.

History’s lessons for today’s investors

Pink Diamond Capital Director Eric Kariuki is familiar with the details of the diamond heist story and the way it helped drive positive change in the industry…mostly. “It was a lesson for the industry”, he says. “It helped to drive tighter security and ultimately the certification and laser micro engraving of pink diamonds above a certain carat weight. Today, globally, there are stringent certification, identification and recording systems in place. It’s a system that ensures investors can be absolutely certain of what they are buying. Although the Argyle mine is no longer operating, the certification system that the mine put in place is what assures the value of their pink diamonds to this day.”

Keeping it clean

Mr Kariuki is keen to reinforce the further benefits of certification and identification for investors for whom ethics are vital. “We are members of Unashamedly Ethical ourselves, a global group centred around trust, integrity and doing good. As such, we are aware that there are operations still producing untraceable pink diamonds to this very day. These stones can find their way onto the black market and at worst can even be used as currency to fund terrorism. It is part of our end-to-end service to our clients to source pink diamonds that are 100 percent traceable through their history of ownership right back to the mine they originated from. We deal in pink diamonds that have unquestionable provenance and therefore indisputable value. We are also proud that our service will therefore never connect our customers with pink diamonds that could possibly have had illicit origins. Even beautiful gems can sometimes carry ugly stories. We deal only in pink diamonds that have transparent origins and provenance that is ethical at every step. Good people deserve to receive peace of mind as part of their investment.”

If you are considering pink diamonds as part of your portfolio, Pink Diamond Capital hosts regular free educational events for investment. To register for such an event or simply to speak with Pink Diamond Capital Director Eric Kariuki about your needs, simply click here.