News

Jun 28, 2019

Rio Tinto Hosts Event to Celebrate Three Decades of Indo-Argyle Partnership

Rio Tinto hosted a celebratory dinner for customers and diamond industry partners in Mumbai to mark 30 years of the Indo-Argyle partnership.

Hailing the relationship as “extraordinary”, Rio Tinto’s management reflected on what it called “the ground breaking partnership” that began with the first lot of diamonds coming to India from the Argyle diamond mine in Western Australia in the 1980s.

Alan Chirgwin, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Rio Tinto’s Copper & Diamonds business said: “Rio Tinto’s 30-year diamond history in India contains many milestones. Our Mumbai office was opened in 1989 in recognition of the growing importance of India as a major trading partner and diamond cutting centre. Argyle undertook its initial cutting tests in India and together with our Indian partners we have built innovative marketing programmes.”

He added: “The Indo-Argyle relationship has thrived on mutual respect and understanding. It gave the owners of Argyle considerable assurance, in June 1996, that it could take the lonely path of being the first diamond producer to independently market all of its production.”

Looking back, Rio Tinto recounted the various initiatives undertaken in partnership with the Indian diamond industry, including the launch of the Indo Argyle Diamond Council (IADC) in 1993 “to create awareness and acceptance of Indian-made diamond jewellery in the US”.

This unique programme paved the way for direct sales of jewellery from India to US retailers. Another ground-breaking programme initiated by the Company was the Business Excellence Model (BEM), “which drove safety, product assurance, quality management and continuous improvement in the diamond and jewellery manufacturing industries and retail trade in India”.

“More recently, Rio Tinto’s Australian Diamonds initiative in India has delivered a leading-edge tracking system for Argyle diamonds, developed in collaboration with downstream partners, for monitoring the movement of Rio Tinto’s rough Australian diamonds from their source at the Argyle mine through to finished jewellery,” Rio Tinto noted.

Vikram Merchant, Director of Rio Tinto’s diamond sales and marketing business in India said: “Thirty years ago, very few people would have predicted that India would become the powerhouse of the diamond industry that it is today. Rio Tinto is proud of the role of the Argyle diamond mine in this development and equally proud of the Indian diamond industry’s role in unlocking the beauty and value of our diamonds.”