Rio's iridescent diamonds draw keen interest from international bidders

Rio Tinto's auction of a fresh set of multi-hued diamonds from its Argyle mine in Australia have elicited strong competition amongst bidders hailing from both Asia and Europe.

According to the Australian, buyers purchased 56 single pink diamonds, two red diamonds and 19 blue diamonds.

Argyle Pink Diamonds manager Josephine Johnson says the company was "delighted to see such a strong appetite" for the auction of the iridescent gem collection.

Johnson says several of the diamonds were snapped up by Indian bidders, where pink diamonds are becoming increasingly popular, while a bidder from Japan, the traditional market for the oddly hued gemstones, managed to nab the Argyle Elektra, a stunning blue diamond.

The most valuable diamond from the collection, a 1.32 carat pink diamond, went to designer John Glajz who intends to use gemstone for a heirloom jewellery piece.

Despite the strong show of interest in the rainbow-hued gem set, Rio Tinto recently announced plans to slash staff positions at its Argyle mine in Western Australia by a fifth, in what many believe was a preparatory measure for its sale or public listing.

Production at the Argyle mine, which accounts for 90% of the global supply of pink diamonds, is set to come to an end within a decade, after which point prices for the rare gems are expected to soar.