When I say that I’m going to the diamond capital of the world, what do you picture? Is it a city of high-rises? Are the sidewalks full of sharp-suited diamond dealers yelling at their cell phones? A place where high heel clad women walk tiny pooches on diamond-studded leashes?
It’s probably not a grey street full of flat-front buildings and no personality. But that’s exactly what it looks like. And I have to tell you, it’s the most beautiful place in the world.
Hidden amongst the ancient and stunning baroque architecture of Antwerp is Hoveniersstraat. A few square blocks of tight cobblestone streets, lined with people from all over the world, armed soldiers, and CCTV cameras that never let you out of their sight. And while it might not have the glitz and glamour of the Antwerp Centraal, it’s got something so much better. Diamonds.
This is where 60-80% of the world’s diamonds are cut and traded. $16 billion in polished diamonds pass through these streets each year. This is my hunting ground.
It’s not easy for a retail jeweler to gain access to the diamond vaults of Antwerp. It takes more than asking nicely and paying an entry fee. You have to earn access. Very few will ever have the honor of surrendering their passport, being allowed behind the bullet-proof walls, and being locked in a vault with armed guards standing watch. But this is what it takes to find the best diamonds in the world.
When I’m in those diamond vaults I am in my happy place. Locked away in that sterile space with only my loupe, a pair of tweezers, and hundreds of diamonds. I’m searching for the best of the best. The diamonds that have an indescribable quality that can’t be found on a diamond report, the ones that transform light into fire, and take your breath away every single day. Because I’m not just shopping for Nelson Coleman Jewelers, I’m shopping for you.
My next flight to Antwerp takes off March 21, what will I find for you?
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Amie is a GIA Graduate Gemologist and has worked at Nelson Coleman since the summer of 2004. She lives to hand-select the very best diamonds to meet our customer’s expectations of quality and cost.
Ready for part 2 of my Antwerp Adventure? Click here