Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Antwerp - The City Of Diamonds - Part 2

Antwerp in Belgium is a foodie delight and is known for its chocolate, waffles, fries and beer but there is more to Antwerp than food, however delicious it is. Think architecture, think art, think museums, think shopping and think... diamonds. 





To celebrate Antwerp being the ‘diamond capital; since 1447' I was recently invited to visit the city by Visit Antwerp and report back to my readers on all the interesting things happening in this vibrant city.





My stay for the two days was Hotel Franq, a newly opened modern boutique hotel a short walk from the main shopping area. The hotel was very chic and beautiful inside and makes a great base for a stay.




Day 1 in Antwerp included a visit to the Mas Museum where I visited the Dazzling Desire exhibition, a new exhibition about diamonds and their links to our emotions. To see some beautiful historic pieces of jewellery, such as a diamond-encrusted pair of boots, was a real eye opener and certainly worth a visit.  That evening we ate the RAS Restaurant overlooking the waterfront, where I dined on shrimp linguine and Belgium beer!

Day 2 started with a scrumptious continental breakfast at Hotel Franq, with locally sourced ingredients and then our group of bloggers and journalists met in the lobby, before being taken to our first stop - Jewellery Van der Veken.



Jewellery Van der Veken is a high-ended jeweller in the heart of the diamond district. Being the first company to be awarded the “Antwerp’s Most Brilliant’ quality label, has really put this jeweller on the map. To be awarded this label a jeweller has to meet 30 strict quality requirements such as ethics, sustainability and service and can only obtain this mark after an independent audit. 


The family-run jeweller was founded in 1952 by Joseph Van der Veken and today it is run by Joseph’s son and grandson, Stephen and Christian. 





What is special about this jeweller is that it is one of the few artisan jewellery makers left, where everything is ‘hand-forged’. This process means that the jeweller can get a finer finish whilst making the jewellery stronger and in Van der Veken jewellers they are proud of the fact that all the jewellery gets a lifetime warranty due to the superb craftsmanship.


It’s certainly the place to go when you want something special for yourself or a loved one. I could only guess at the price of the beautiful pieces of jewellery we saw, including an amazing diamond brooch and a gorgeous tennis bracelet.  Van der Veken jewellers, however, do have a number of items that start under 1000 Euros that do not scrimp on quality and design, so a unique piece of handmade jewellery is within many people's reach. 







Next, we visited the site of the new Diva museum, due to open next spring in the centre of Antwerp and spoke to the enthusiastic director Jeroen Martens. This museum, dedicated to diamonds will have many interactive elements and the aim is to provide an immersive and theatrical experience. Modern technology such as touchscreens will be used and special activities for children, such as sorting diamonds will make it fun for younger ones.


As well as finding out about diamonds from their source deep in the ground to the process of cutting and polishing and the finished article, it will also talk about the roll Antwerp plays until this day in the world of diamonds (more of that later).

Less positive aspects of diamond dealing will also be addressed, such as blood diamonds as well as how this has been addressed today with The Kimberly Process - a guarantee that diamonds have not been sourced in an area of conflict.  A visit to a 'strong room' where you will see how diamond theft is being dealt sounds interesting. At the end of the museum, you will get a chance to buy your very own diamond. That is one gift shop I will not be exiting quickly I can assure you!




An exhibit at Diva

The DIVA museum certainly sounds exciting, and I for one will be delighted to return to Antwerp just to see this new museum when it opens next May.




So time for lunch next, and a short walk brings us to the Mercado food hall. Here you can choose from a choice of 13 different food stands, from waffles to felafel, to Asian food. As well as having felafels I had the most amazing ‘bubble’ waffle. A light as a feather waffle with cream and syrup which was a decadent snack.  Of course, I had to have it as Belgium is known for its waffles and it was totally scrumptious!



Our last stop of the day was to the Antwerp World Diamond Centre.

Here are some of the facts I learnt about diamonds here:-

  1. A diamond is a chunk of coal that is made good under pressure.
  2. Russia is the biggest producer of diamonds.
  3. 84% of rough diamonds are traded in Antwerp.
  4. 50% of polished diamonds are traded in Antwerp.
  5. 220 million dollars of diamonds passed through the Antwerp diamond office every day.
  6. Diamonds provide 6600 direct jobs and over 26,000 indirect jobs in Antwerp and the surrounding area.




copyright Jan Crab

Why is Antwerp so important for the diamond trade?

Antwerp is important as 570 years of expertise and heritage are in the Antwerp area and there are more than 1700 diamond companies and manufacturers here.

The Antwerp World Diamond centre has stringent controls on diamonds including monitoring the import and export of diamonds and running the Kimberley process scheme.  This scheme implemented over 10 years ago has helped control conflict diamonds to less than 0.2% of all diamonds worldwide, from 15%. When diamonds are found to be used in armed conflict all participants are suspended from trade. 




I really enjoyed my stay in Antwerp. This underrated city has much to offer and is a must visit for fashion and diamond lovers everywhere.

If you want to read more about my trip to Antwerp, check out my posts Antwerp - the city of diamonds - part 1 and Hotel Franq, a luxury boutique hotel review, Antwerp.

If you want to know what else to do in Antwerp, visit the Visit Antwerp website. Many thanks to Visit Antwerp for inviting me on this press trip. I will be back!


MummyTravels
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39 comments

  1. What a unique getaway, filled with diamonds! I would love to visit those museums. I did buy in Amsterdam small ring with tiny diamonds like 20 years ago....right at the beginning of a 2 month backpacking trip lol.

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  2. I am yet to venture out to Antwerp but I had no idea it was a city of diamonds, this is truly impressive

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  3. Ive never been to Antwerp. It does look amazing. Love that jewellery too

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  4. Diamond and food markets? This sounds my ideal get-a-way. The Diva Museum does sound really interesting.

    C x

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    1. I can't wait for it to open. I love the idea of it being like a theatre experience.

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  5. Wow, what a break! I've long been a fan of the architecture in Antwerp and it's on my list of places to visit for sure. I bet learning about diamonds was interesting, they're so beautiful.

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    1. I am a big lover of architecture. The buildings remind me of the buildings in Amsterdam.

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  6. We love the photography and this is such a lovely account of a delightful city. This happens to be one of our favourite cities in the World. Through our work at Serendipity Diamonds, we have many opportunities for trips to Antwerp which is one of the major diamond trading centres of the World. One of the points I would also add, relates to conflict diamonds. The Kimberley Process helps stem the flow of diamonds traded by rebel armies to fund wars against legitimate governments, but there are no controls for the treatment of workers operating under legitimate governments. We look towards 100% ethical diamonds, some of which are cut in Antwerp, including CanadaMark diamonds with a proven origin back to Canadian mines. Thanks again for a great account of this lovely city.

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    1. Thanks for commenting! Ethical diamonds are paramount to the diamond business today.

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  7. Antwerp looks incredible. I was so jealous when you told me you were going! Beautiful place and I never realised it was the city of diamonds!`

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  8. The Dazzling Desire exhibition sounds fascinating. I'd definitely like to visit Antwerp to see that and the new museum too

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    1. It should be opening in May. Let me know if you do get the chance to go.

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  9. Oh what a fascinating place. I would love to visit and definitely try the waffles! Kaz

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  10. I had no idea it was a city of diamonds too! Thought it was just all about the waffles haha

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    1. I thought it was all about fries! Seriously it was great to visit this lovely city and find out about the diamond industry.

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  11. Wow. The city of diamonds. How romantic x

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  12. I'm actually planning a trip to Belgium for 2018 and will definitely include Antwerp, I feel bad I haven't visited it already in previous trips to the country, it looks like a city with so much to see and do (and eat!)

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  13. We have always wanted to go to Amsterdam, loved looking at your photos and the city of Antwerp looks so stylish and sophisticated.

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  14. This sounds like a fab trip for all diamond lovers all over the world! Great post hun!

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  15. I've never been to Belgium before but it looks beautiful and those diamonds are to die for.

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  16. I love the sound of the dazzling desire exhibition I never knew about a link between diamonds and emotions so that must have been interesting to learn about.

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    1. It was an interesting exhibit. Be sure to check out my part one of this trip where I talk about it, in more detail http://www.thediaryofajewellerylover.co.uk/2017/11/antwerp-city-of-diamonds-part-1.html

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  17. It sounds like a really interesting visit. I love learning about precious gems so it must have been fascinating - did you get to bring some home with you?

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  18. Oh my goodness, those diamonds are incredible. I hadn't thought of visiting Antwerp before but it looks like a really interesting place x

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    1. It is, and glad that you are thinking more about Antwerp now. It's a city that's certainly worth visiting that's for sure, especially if you are a foodie, love fashion or diamonds.

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  19. Those pieces are so beautiful - and it's amazing the value of the diamonds which pass through the city, how incredible. It has been fascinating reading your posts, discovering much more about this part of Belgium - a very tempting city break. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

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    1. I agree, the diamond jewellery is absolutely stunning, and so precious. I am so glad you enjoyed my posts. I hope to go back to visit the Diva museum in May.

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  20. Wow what an amazing journey, Those diamonds are simply stunning such a treat to see them.

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  21. What an awesome adventure you had there! I'm jealous looking at the stunning pics and i bet real life was 100% better!

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    1. It was a lovely trip, I wished I could have seen more of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre.

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  22. What a lovely trip, you lucky thing !!!

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