The History Of Diamonds in Antwerp

The quest for the flawless diamond, which has always been associated with emotions of love and happiness, has always been linked with the beautiful city of Antwerp. Known today as an extremely important locale when it comes to the international diamond trade, Belgium’s major port has gradually earned a name as the capital of the globe’s diamond trade. In fact, as much as 84% of the world’s mined diamonds can be found in Antwerp. And that’s exactly what makes this such an important spot when it comes to all things diamonds. But how did this come about?

The diamond trade here began nearly 500 years ago, when the very first rough stones were brought from India. Slowly, local diamond traders began paying more attention to detail and became extremely discerning in their selection process. And one fine day, even François I, the King of France, began to order diamonds from the maestros in Antwerp instead of bringing them in all the way from Paris.

The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) was established back in 1973 and has become one of the most famed and lauded private companies to formally represent the popular Antwerp diamond sector. Lying in Hoveniersstraat, Antwerp, it oversees both the import and export of diamonds that flow in and out of the city. Several of the important diamond mining companies are located in Antwerp, responsible for sourcing diamonds for dealers the world over.

Hoveniersstraat Antwerpen
Hoveniersstraat, the diamond hub in Antwerp

Talking about its history, Antwerp has always enjoyed its position as the land of opportunities. This rings especially true when it comes to the diamond trade. Established in the 15th century, the diamond industry here grew to a considerable scale, moving across Europe and India, where trading with rough diamonds had first begun. Today, Antwerp’s diamond districts boasts the four most important diamond markets in the vicinity.

When 1476 arrived, Lodewyk van Berken brought about a massive change in the business. He invented a tool that would redefine the way a diamond was polished. Known as the scaif, this tool led to the creation of more sparkling or multifaceted diamonds. Their shimmer, shine and sheer beauty began to attract dozens of orders from European elite. Later in 1477, Archduke Maximilian of Austria bought his wife-to-be a beautiful present – a glimmering diamond ring. This sealed the deal, turning the diamond ring into a classic proposal accessory – the diamond engagement ring.

Antwerp was already enjoying a prime position in the diamond business. But this only catapulted further on the discovery of a straight sea route to India by Vasco da Gama. This changed the trade balance, taking it from Venice to Lisbon. The comparatively relaxed channel between Lisbon and Antwerp let the port continue to enjoy its premium position in the diamond industry. Today, this bustling diamond district is home to a highly qualified set of diamond cutters, specializing in processing some of the most extraordinary diamonds that you will find in any of the markets.

For many years, Antwerp has been associated with finesse and supremacy when it comes to diamonds. Their craftsmanship is superior and their diamonds are steeped in authenticity. Today, Antwerp diamonds continue to draw people in, appealing to traders from around the world who are always on the lookout for the finest diamonds.

When you’re searching for the perfect diamond, it could definitely take a while as you move from showroom to showroom. Be it earrings for an anniversary, an engagement ring or a stunning piece for a wedding, the choices are plenty. But when you’re shopping for diamonds at any of the diamond markets of Antwerp, know that each of the diamonds here have been handpicked, especially for you. This process is unique, designed to fulfill your every wish, from the simple to the grandiose. Here are some tips before you buy diamonds in Antwerp.

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