Curiosities in the Antwerp diamond district

Aside from highly functional institutions and companies, such as the secure and reliable courier company Brinks, wholesalers that deal in the requisites of diamond dealers, like Swiss-Axe, the various banks that specialise in diamond dealing, like ABN Amro and the Antwerp Diamond Bank, international diamond insurer Driesassur, and many others, there are also many fascinating sights to behold in the diamond district.

Four diamond bourses

NV Diamantclub, or simply “The Club”, was first located above the famed Cafe Flora and is now on Pelikaanstraat and Hoveniersstraat. You can only become a member of the club if you are nominated by other members.

The ‘Fortunia’ building, on the corner of Vestingsstraat and Pelikaanstraaat, is still standing, although the diamond exchange no longer exists.

The Vrije Diamanthandel was previously known as the Vereniging voor Vrije Diamanthandel (Association for Open Diamond Trading) and was located in Cafe Eendracht, where the ABN Amro building now stands. Today the Vrije Diamanthandel is housed in the Diamantclub buildings.

The Antwerp Diamond Bourse was originally known as the ‘Casino’ or the ‘Antwerp Casino’ and is located on Pelikaanstraat and Hoveniersstraat. The building is known as ‘The Diamond Bourse’.

In the past most of the deals took place in one of the above buildings, but that is no longer the case today, with all negotiations conducted in the privacy of diamond dealers’ offices where things are more discrete and safe.

Although there is no longer as much action in the bourses as there once was, 85 percent of all recognised diamond dealers are still members of one or more of the exchanges. The major reason for this is to retain traditions and structure, while the bourses also act as regulators and protectors of the strict ethics code in the diamond industry. In other words they uphold the order in the industry and ensure that conflicts between members are solved.

Diamond Office/AWDC

Diamond Office plays a pivotal role in the Antwerp diamond industry, overseeing all diamond imports and exports.

The Portuguese synagogue

On the walls of this synagogue you can see the memorial plaque to the three people killed in a bomb attack on 20 October 1981.

You can get a glimpse of the interior in the early evening when religious Jewish attendants enter and exit the synagogue.

The HRD issues certificates containing all the essential details for a cut diamond and is a part of the AWDC. HRD is an acronym for Hoge Raad van Diamant (Diamond High Council).

Diamond Office is a part of the AWDC (Antwerp World Diamond Centre), the umbrella body for the diamond industry that was established in 1973 under the title HRD (the Diamond High Council)

IGI is the acronym of the International Gemmological Institute, the body that issues certificates containing all the important details of cut diamonds.

Even if it’s not in the diamond district, it is still most certainly worthwhile visiting the Diamond Pavilion at the Museum Aan de Stroom (MAS). The pavilion is a joint venture between the Province of Antwerp Diamond Museum and the AWDC (Antwerp World Diamond Centre), and it contains a wealth of information on why Antwerp is called the world diamond centre as well as on the diamond trade and industry and its general economic significance.MAS Diamond Pavilion

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