By Michelle Graff - National Jeweler

So is violet the rarest hue of diamond there is? “There’s no question about it,” said Larry West of L.J. West Diamonds, the company that placed the winning bid on this 2.83-carat violet diamond from the 2016 Argyle tender.

New York--It’s the biggest violet diamond ever found at Australia’s Argyle Mine, and it now belongs to a New York company that’s been in the colored diamond business for nearly 40 years.

L.J. West Diamonds Inc. placed the winning bid on the 2.83-carat “Argyle Violet,” the centerpiece of this year’s Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, Rio Tinto’s annual sale of the top diamonds to come out of its Argyle mine.

Company President Larry West said the Violet, a diamond that generated a lot of interest and excitement, was a stone he “really wanted to possess.”

“There’s such a huge disparity between this size and the next biggest violet stone that’s ever come out of the (Argyle) mine,” he said, referencing the 1.41-carat Ocean Seer from the 2008 tender. “It’s such a rarity that I felt it was worth bidding on.”

West is not saying how much he paid for the stone, which is being set in a ring and surrounded by smaller Argyle pinks, though he did reveal that it will be available to purchase next year.

But he won’t be taking the violet diamond to Christie’s or Sotheby’s to sell it.

Rather, L.J. West Diamonds will offer the Argyle Violet through its network of retail partners after it is featured in the “Diamonds: Rare Brilliance” exhibition slated to run from December to March 2017 at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

“I am glad to have it shown,” West said of the violet’s inclusion in the exhibition. “It’s so rare. Nobody’s ever seen stones like this, and I think it’s important for them to be out there in the public domain. It makes it more real for people; it’s not just a story.”

This year, a total of 63 pink, red and violet diamonds--collectively dubbed “The Chroma Collection”-- comprised the Argyle tender, which was 100 percent sold by lot.

Collectively, the stones represented the highest quality, size and color composition in the tender’s 32-year history and, consequently, achieved the highest average price per carat ever.

Beyond L.J. West Diamonds, Rio Tinto did not reveal the names of any companies that purchased a diamond from the tender, nor did it share prices.

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