For several centuries, Antwerp in Belgium has been in focus in the diamond trade. When Lodewyk van Berken invented a new form of diamond polishing tool, the industry underwent a transformation. This was called the scaif, which facilitated the creation of the stereotypical sparkling, diamond. This attracted the European nobility and other craftsmen to Antwerp. Charles the Bold ordered van Berken to cut and polish the Florentine Diamond. In the 1890s, a diamond industry hence got established in Antwerp by families of diamond manufacturers and traders who came from Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Antwerp's diamond district, which is also known as the Diamond Quarter, is an area within the city of Antwerp in Belgium. As of 2012, most of the gem cutting and polishing work that was historically done in the neighbourhood, had moved to low wage centers which were located in different areas. About 84% of the world's rough diamonds pass through this district, making it the biggest diamond district in the world.
Antwerp, Belgium is also home to the World Diamond Center, with more than 80% of Antwerp's Jewish population working in the diamond trade. Historically, Yiddish was known to be the main language of diamond exchange.
The major diamond manufacturing centers include India, Israel, New York and Belgium, the most important being Antwerp in Belgium. More than half of the world market of rough as well as polished diamonds passes by the city. Approximately 1,500 diamond offices are located in Antwerp’s diamond district. The rough diamonds are usually distributed to dealers and the cutting centers in Antwerp. Approximately 80-85% of the total rough diamond trade is known to take place here.
The major rough diamond markets in Antwerp include:
- Antwerpse Diamantkring: Rough diamonds, Antwerp
- Vrije Diamanthandel: Rough and polished diamonds, Antwerp
- Diamantclub van Antwerpen: Rough and polished diamonds, Antwerp
The conditions to become a member of one of these markets however, are very rigid and strict.
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