Antwerp diamond district

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Coordinates: 51°12′52″N 4°25′07″E / 51.214425°N 4.418625°E / 51.214425; 4.418625

Diamond shops

Antwerp's diamond district, also known as the Diamond Quarter (Diamantkwartier), and dubbed the Square Mile[1] is an area within the city of Antwerp, Belgium. It consists of several square blocks covering an area of about one square mile. While, as of 2012, much of the gem cutting and polishing work historically done in the district had moved to low wage centers elsewhere, about 84% of the world's rough diamonds passed through the district, making it the largest diamond center in the world with a turnover of 54 billion dollars.[2]

Over $16 billion in polished diamonds pass through the district's exchanges each year. There are 380 workshops that serve 1,500 companies. There are also 3,500 brokers, merchants & diamond cutting.

Within the district is the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, and four trading exchanges[3] including the Diamond Club of Antwerp and the Beurs voor Diamanthandel, both of which were founded by Hasidic diamantaires.[4] There are also four banks specializing in the financing of the diamond trade.[5]

Antwerp diamond district - street view.jpg

The district is dominated by Jewish and Indian dealers, known as diamantaires.[6] [6] [7] More than 80% of Antwerp's Jewish population work in the diamond trade; Yiddish was, historically, a main language of the diamond exchange.[8] No business is conducted on Saturdays.[9]

History[edit]

Antwerp has been a focus of the diamond trade for several centuries; the industry was transformed when Lodewyk van Berken invented a new form of diamond polishing tool, the scaif, which enabled the creation of the stereotypical sparkling, multifaceted diamond; this attracted orders from European nobility - and attracted other craftsmen to Antwerp.[10] Charles the Bold commissioned him to cut and polish the Florentine Diamond.

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