Flanders has always been a great region for innovation. This is one of the many reasons Flanders’ largest city Antwerp has become the diamond capital. Modern techniques and ancient traditions come together in a city that has as many facets as the diamonds we hold so dear!
Antwerp’s rise to fame as the diamond city
Antwerp didn’t become the world diamond center in a few years, it took decades, centuries even for the city to flourish. Before Antwerp took its role as the leader in the diamond trade there were others that claimed this position.
What made other cities more attractive than Antwerp was the connection with India which for a long time was the most important supplier of diamonds in the world. This is why Bruges developed in a thriving diamond cutting center.
Bruges claim to the “diamond throne” lasted for a few centuries but eventually Bruges’ economic activities dried out gradually through the silting of the river Zwin which made Bruges harder to reach. This opened the way for Antwerp which attracted Bruges’ traders and craftsmen by offering better facilities for communication and exchange.
In the sixteenth century, Antwerp flourished. Trade and wealth made it possible for Antwerp to play a determining role in the development of diamond cutting techniques. Antwerp’s prowess as a diamond city is proven by King Francois I who preferred the skill of the Antwerp diamond cutters over those in Paris. This is a clear sign of the skill Antwerp diamond cutters had at the time, certainly if you consider how proud the French people are!
Amsterdam’s diamond age
At the end of the seventeenth century, Antwerp had to give way for Amsterdam as diamond capital. Amsterdam provided religious and civil liberty that attracted skillful workers as well as wealth. Antwerp, however, didn’t crumble and created its own niche. Antwerp only received smaller gemstones but was able to transform these into finely worked gems. This kept the Antwerp diamond trade alive in a difficult time.
In the nineteenth-century diamond veins were discovered in Africa which led to a massive influx of gemstones. This brought work back to the struggling Antwerp diamond craftsmen. In a matter of months, Antwerp was reborn as the diamond city!
Centuries of diamond history provide a wealth of knowledge
Antwerp’s rich history in the diamond trade gives it centuries worth of know-how. This knowledge can still be seen daily in the skill of the craftsmen and the unparalleled brilliance of Antwerp diamonds.
Do you want to learn more about diamonds and their history? Then a visit to Antwerp will provide you with an unforgettable experience. If you decide to come to Antwerp don’t forget to visit us! Diamondland is Antwerp’s largest diamond showroom that will impress anyone with a love for beautiful gems!