You have undoubtedly heard a lot about the Antwerp diamond district, also known as the Diamond Quarter. The place is known worldwide for its important role in the diamond trade. Diamond dealers cut, polish and sell diamonds there, and jewellers mount them in jewellery. What is so special about the diamond district?
The diamond district in Antwerp, or the Diamant Quarter, is perhaps the best place in the world to be if you are looking for diamonds. Antwerp is known throughout the world as the diamond city par excellence. But this epicentre is barely 1 km2 in size. It is made up of five streets, of which three are traffic-free. De Rijfstraat, Hoveniersstraat and Schupstraat are the heart of the district. The diamond dealers in the Vestingstraat and the Lange Herentalsstraat focus more on tourists who are looking for diamonds.
The Antwerp diamond district is also easy to reach if you are coming from abroad, as it is located just next to the Central Station in Antwerp.
A visit to the Diamond Quarter is a must, not only if you really intend to purchase diamonds. Of course there are many beautiful pieces of jewellery and loose diamonds to be found, but the architecture and other attractions in the district are also interesting.
There is the Diamond Trade Exchange (Beurs voor Diamanthandel) in the Hoveniersstraat, formerly known as Antwerp Casino. In addition, there is the Diamond Office, where all imports and exports of diamonds in Antwerp are registered. It is part of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), the umbrella organisation of the diamond sector, founded in 1973.
Those who are interested in the Jewish faith can also enjoy themselves. The Portuguese Synagogue is located in the middle of the diamond district in Antwerp. The building resembles a neo-Roman church, but because of its austerity, it stands out against the large office buildings in the neighbourhood.
The diamond museum DIVA and the diamond pavilion at the MAS are outside the diamond district but are also worth a visit. There you will learn more about the history of the diamond trade, industry and district.
Over the course of the 16th century, Antwerp began to profile itself more and more as a merchant city, thanks to its bustling port. Diamonds were first shipped from India to Bruges via Venice, but after the Bruges port declined, Antwerp took over the leading role in the diamond trade.
Originally, the area around the Groenplaats was the diamond district, but the district has moved a few times over the centuries, including toward Paardenmarkt and Meir. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the diamond district has firmly established in its permanent place in the vicinity of Central Station. Since the 1970s, the economic importance of the diamond trade has increased for the city of Antwerp, and exchanges and auction houses have been established.