The history of diamonds in Antwerp

The history of diamonds in Antwerp

Where were diamonds first found?

Historians go back as early as the 4th century BC, when estimating the trade of diamonds in India.

India was a country of alluvial diamonds, meaning diamonds that eroded from their source rock and transported away to be found in rivers and streams.

Originally, since their production was limited, diamonds were only made available to India’s very wealthy classes. But with the increasing developed commerce routes, these diamonds travelled as far as Western Europe with other exotic merchandise and quickly became Europe’s favourite accessories for the wealthy by the 1400s.

But by the 1700s, India’s diamond supplies began to decrease considerably. That’s when Brazil started emerging as an alternative source. There too, the diamonds were mostly alluvial, where gold miners discovered their first diamonds when sifting through dirt at local rivers. For the following 150 years, Brazil dominated the world’s diamond market.

How diamond demand increased and other deposits were found

With time, the demand for diamonds increased with the demand from a larger population.

That is when explorers, in the mid/late 1800s, found the first diamond deposits in Kimberley, South Africa. The story of diamonds as we more commonly know it, starts then.

One man, Cecil Rhodes, changed everything. He changed the way diamonds were mined by establishing the De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited in 1888. In fact, by the 1900s, De Beers produced about 95% of the worlds diamond market.

The largest ever found diamond called the Cullinan Diamond, came from his Cullinan mine in 1903, it weighed 3106 carats.

Diamonds in Antwerp

By the 1970s, the three most important producers of rough diamonds were South Africa, the former Soviet Union and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Then came Botswana in 1982, followed by sources that were found in Australia in 1985 and in Northern Canada in 2000.

From as early as the 1400s, and throughout the centuries, the city of Antwerp has remained a leading Diamond trading centre. Diamonds in Antwerp are intrinsically part of the DNA of the city. When people visit Antwerp, there is even a guided tour that takes you at the heart of the Diamond District to learn more about diamonds.

Diamonds in Antwerp come from all over the world, they transit through the city as rough or polished stones and continue their route on different markets in various countries.


BAUNAT is located at the heart of the Diamond district, and is at your disposal to answer any question you may have on diamonds in Antwerp. BAUNAT offers a large range of diamonds of all types, please do not hesitate to contact us should you wish to purchase a unique piece of jewellery or an individual diamond.

Author: Naomi Howard

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