‘Rare’ yellow Diavik diamond headlines Rio Tinto fall sale

Last modified: October 21, 2020 at 9:39am


A 74.48-carat fancy yellow diamond named for the mythical Greek god of the sun will lead off Rio Tinto’s fall sale of rough diamonds.

The gem, named Helios, comes from the Northwest Territories’ Diavik diamond mine. Helios will be lot number one in Rio Tinto’s October and November sale of rough diamonds greater than 10.8 carats in size.


A fancy diamond has a colour outside the ordinary range of colourless through to light yellow.

“Fancy yellow diamonds are rare finds from the Diavik diamond mine,” said Rio Tinto in a news release on Wednesday. The company, which majority-owns and operates the Diavik mine, said the mine usually produces white diamonds.

“Since the Diavik mine began production in 2003, it has produced on average only five large yellow diamonds each year,” said Patrick Coppens, Rio Tinto’s general manager of sales and marketing.

Coppens said that equates to 0.001 percent of Diavik’s annual production.

“The Diavik Helios is an exceptional diamond in terms of its colour saturation and clarity and will be in strong demand from coloured diamond specialists around the world,” he said.


The Covid-19 pandemic has created a difficult year for diamond sales, not least because major industry trading hubs like the Belgian city of Antwerp closed down operations for a time.

The NWT’s mine owners have had mixed fortunes as a result.

The Ekati mine shut down as the pandemic reached the territory and has yet to reopen, with owner Dominion entering creditor protection partly, the company said, because of an inability to sell diamonds.

The Diavik Helios fancy yellow diamond is seen in a Rio Tinto promotional image

Diavik and the territory’s third diamond mine, Gahcho Kué, have each said they maintained some ability to sell diamonds throughout the year. Dominion has now restarted sales.


The Rio Tinto sale featuring Helios will involve physical displays in both Antwerp and Tel Aviv, Israel, alongside online viewing. Bids close on November 9.