To mark the end of a year filled with major diamond finds, Rachael Taylor spoke to Rio Tinto Diamonds managing director Jean-Marc Lieberherr about the Diavik Foxfire, a 187.7ct gem-quality rough diamond.
The Diavik Foxfire was discovered at Rio Tinto’s Diavik mine in the northwest territories of Cananda and unveiled in London of December 2.
How unusual a find was the Foxfire?
The discovery in of the 187.7 carat rough diamond, the Diavik Foxfire was very unusual. It is the largest gem quality rough diamond on record in Canadian history.
Do you expect that we’ll see any more large diamonds like this emerge from the mine in Canada?
Given the relatively limited mine lives of all Canadian mines, there may never be a diamond this size ever coming out of North America again.
What is demand like for Canadian diamonds in the UK and globally?
Canadian diamonds from Rio Tinto’s Diavik mine are in strong demand in all established and emerging markets.
Recognized as especially white and lustrous, our Diavik diamonds are mined using innovative engineering practices, environmentally sustainable mining practices and collaborative work with indigenous communities.
There is a strong ethical focus on diamond mining in Canada, do you think that as the consumer market becomes continually more socially aware that this will give Canadian diamonds an advantage in price or demand terms?
Canadian diamonds have a provenance that is clean and pure which is increasingly important to consumers.
Buyers of Canadian diamonds are guaranteed that all handling of their diamond is within the sphere of best practices: workers are safe, paid fair wages and the process is environmentally sound.
Was 2015 a good year for diamond sales and how do you expect 2016 to perform?
Diamond industry fundamentals are robust however in the short term demand for diamond jewellery in India and China has weakened in response to global economic volatility. The large US market has been remarkably resilient and continues to be the cornerstone of the diamond business.
We believe that the market is likely to remain soft until mid- 2016, after which inventories will be back to normal levels.
How do you see the market developing for Canadian diamonds?
Canadian diamonds have a special allure with an extraordinary story from the mine to the market. We see this as a key differentiation point that is likely to continue.