Buying a $200 Stake in an Argyle PinkJuly 07, 22
Investing in diamonds has always been a tricky business. On paper they may seem like an attractive option, especially at a time like this, when the markets are in turmoil and crypto is in freefall. But the thing that sets diamonds aside from precious metals or commodities - the fact that every gem is unique - is also big part of their problem. Rare and precious as they are, diamonds are only worth what a buyer will pay on the day. Just take a look at the difference between the hammer price and the estimates for high-value diamonds at the big auction houses. They can sell for millions of dollars more than expected - or millions less. Only last month the flawless 101.41-carat Juno diamond sold at Sotheby's New York for $12.96m, almost $3m above its high estimate. At the same sale a 111.59-carat pear-shaped fancy deep orange-brown diamond went for $693,000. The estimate was $1.5m to $2.5m. Investing in lower-priced goods is no less tricky, for reasons anyone in the business will understand.
But there may be another way. Or ways. One option is Diamond Standard, launched last July as the world's first fungible diamond commodity offering. An automated system buys natural, polished diamonds across a range of sizes, colors and clarities and packages them into clear plastic coins, all of exactly the same value, to be bought and traded. The launch price was $5,000. Today each coin is worth $6,330.
For those with deeper pockets, the Qatar-based Amma Group specializes in rare and extremely valuable fancy color diamonds, with a minimum buy-in of $1m. It was jointly founded in 2008 by jewelry veterans Mahyar Makhzani and Philip Baldwin. They're seeking $100m of investment for their fifth fund, Colour Fund V, domiciled in the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao. It provides investors direct 'pure play' exposure to actual colored diamonds, rubies and sapphires, without the corporate or operating risks.
But for those who can't afford $1m, or $6,330, there's now a way to invest in diamonds for just $200. Luxus, the fractional ownership business launched in May, makes the most of updates to US regulations, allowing companies to offer diamonds - and indeed real estate, fine arts, sports memorabilia and much more besides - as an IPO. Admittedly much of the investment in Luxus's diamonds will come from private wealth and corporates, but anyone aged over 18 with $200 to spare, can buy a tiny slice of a precious gem.
The first offering was a $400,000 Argyle pink - a 0.54-carat Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink Oval Brilliant VS2 - which was fully subscribed, with 2,000 shares sold at $200 each.
"We're turning diamonds, particularly a fancy colored pink Argyle diamond, into a publicly traded equity," said hedge fund expert Dana Auslander, who founded Luxus with fashion journalist Gretchen Gunlocke Fenton. "People have tried to do this with diamonds in so many different ways and the fungibility issue is a real big issue," said Dana. "I think that unlike gold, if you break a diamond up, you really can't have one plus one equal two."