Come visit us at Antwerp – the city of love, passion and beauty
Antwerp has an extensive history associated with it in terms of the city being the World Diamond Center. Yes, all of it is way too long, but considering how marvelous it is, we’ll take the time to give you a brief about it.
It all started in India
It is just about impossible for anyone to know when and where the first diamonds were discovered. What we do know is that right up to the eighteenth century; all of the world’s diamonds were acquired from India. Until the arrival of the first Europeans in India, trade relations continued to flourish between Europe and Eastern Asia, and for this purpose, two separate diamond trade routes that passed through Venice were used.
One of the most vital mercantile republic in the western world, the city enjoyed a strong position in the diamond trade on its way to the main towns of southern Germany and its final destination in Bruges. Just so you know, Bruges developed into a well-known diamond cutting center with time and its fame continued to rise as the years went by. However, its fame came to a sudden halt because of the silting of the Zwin.
Then came Antwerp
Together with all other economic activity of Bruge’s, the diamond trade suddenly shifted to the city of Antwerp. It was here that merchants got to benefit from better facilities in terms of exchange and communications. From what is known, Antwerp became a fascinatingly flourishing and expanding city in the sixteenth century. It was at this time that Antwerp finally started playing a significant role in the development of diamond-working techniques. From then onwards, there was no looking back on the fame that the city gained as the world center of diamonds.
Back in the days, Antwerp happened to be the commercial heart of Europe as nearly 40% of the world trade used its port. Obviously, the diamond trade played a special part in making the city so famous. But with the passage of time, Antwerp started experiencing a bit of a decline as northern Netherlands’s growing proportion on its business was acquired by Amsterdam. Internal conflicts between the rich merchants and the New Guild of Diamond Cutters contributed to this decline. But the city maintained its prestige right up to the middle of the seventeenth century when the diamond trade continued to flourish once more.
Antwerp rose again as the World Diamond Center
The discovery of the first diamond mine in South Africa in 1866 together with that of the Kimberley deposits lead to large-scale prospecting and mining activities. These activities brought in massive of rough diamond supplies into Europe. This substantial influx of rough stones was instrumental in contributing to the city’s status as the world’s top diamond center. In just a few months, thousands of craftsmen acquired work – this revival of diamond cutting in Antwerp was further stimulated by an increasing demand for gemstones.
World War II and Antwerp’s role as diamond center after it
In order to save as much of the existing diamond stocks as possible from the Germans, all of the dealers in England transferred their diamonds to Antwerp. An agreement was reached with the British government, which lead to the establishment of an organization known as the Correspondence Office for the Diamond Industry so that the diamonds could be registered and kept safe all through the war. It was because of this organization that thousands of diamonds were safely handed over to their owners upon the liberation of the city. This further gave a promising start to the Antwerp diamond industry at the end of the war – and since then, it has rightfully been known as the world diamond center.