Antwerp diamond district
Antwerp's diamond district, also known as the Diamond Quarter (Diamantkwartier), and dubbed the Square Mile, 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 neighborhood had moved to low wage centers elsewhere, about 84% of the world's rough diamonds passed through the district, making it the largest diamond district in the world with a turnover of 54 billion dollars.
Within the area is the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, and four trading exchanges including the Diamond Club of Antwerp and the Beurs voor Diamanthandel, both of which were founded by Hasidic diamantaires, the Antwerpsche Diamantkring and the Vrije Diamanthandel.
The neighborhood is dominated by Jewish, Jain Indians, Maronite Christian Lebanese and Armenian dealers, known as diamantaires. More than 80% of Antwerp's Jewish population works in the diamond trade; Yiddish was, historically, a main language of the diamond exchange. No business is conducted on Saturdays.
The diamond district is located adjacent to the Central Station (Antwerp Centraal) and a few minute's walk to Meir, Antwerp's main shopping street. The Antwerp Zoo is also nearby. There are numerous and various restaurants, bars and cafes around the district. Restaurants include: Ho Chan House (Chinese), San Remo and Da Vinci Pizzerias. Bars include: Bier Central (boasts over 200 types of beers), Kelly's Irish Pub. Cafes include: Del Rey.
Antwerp has been a focus of the diamond trade since 15th century. 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. Charles the Bold commissioned him to cut and polish the Florentine Diamond. In the 1890s a diamond industry is established in Antwerp by families of diamonds traders and manufacturers who came from Amsterdam, Netherlands.
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