World diamond centre

Around eighty four percent of all rough diamonds pass through Antwerp on their way towards becoming earrings or other pieces of jewellery. Antwerp is home to both diamond wholesalers, traders and cutters, to diamond schools and start-ups inventing new technologies to get even more brightness out of stones that have an Antwerp Cut. Innovation is at the heart of the diamond industry as new technology is created to detect and screen lab grown diamonds and differentiate them from natural diamonds.

The biggest

Daily, 220 million dollars’ worth of diamonds are traded, adding up to an amazing 48 billion dollars annually. On a surface of less than 1 square mile more than 1700 registered diamond traders are active. No other city in the world houses four diamond exchanges, controls 84% of the world’s trade in rough diamonds and 50% of the trade in polished diamonds.

Every diamond in the world passes at least once in Antwerp! In 2016, more than 202 million carats of both rough and cut diamonds were traded. Adding up to a total value of 48 billion dollars.

The first

For over 5 centuries, Antwerp is the heart of the global diamond trade. The oldest documents to prove the existence of diamond trade in Antwerp date back to 1447. In Antwerp, the ancient craft is combined with modern technologies. The brilliant, the most popular diamond cut in the world, was created in Antwerp by Tolkowsky in 1919. Even today Antwerp remains pioneer in the development of new techniques.

The purest

Antwerp firmly says no to conflict diamonds. Since the approval of the Kimberley Process, Antwerp fulfils the role as global moral leader in transparency and compliance.

In collaboration with the federal government of Belgium all diamond imports and exports are physically controlled through the Diamond Office, which serves as an example to many other diamond centres in the world.

Becoming future-proof in the diamond sector

In this changing economy, diamond companies and jewellers are taking the necessary steps to become future-proof. The city of Antwerp stimulates this innovation movement by financially supporting two trajectories. On one hand, the city finances innovative projects which impact the entire diamond sector. On the other hand, it matches companies with experts to review a specific business model.

This report explores the innovation opportunities and challenges facing Antwerps' diamond companies in six domains. Review this webinar with more background and insights on the report.

Innovations for the entire diamond sector

Here, the city of Antwerp selects companies from the diamond sector that are interested in a new business model or a renewed strategy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. This trajectory runs until 2025 and must originate from a confirmed collective need of the diamond sector.

Together with the entrepreneur, a challenge is defined. Then, an innovation agency guides the company towards a future-proof organizational structure. The city of Antwerp finances this entire innovation process, only requiring the participating companies to share their knowledge with the sector, anonymously if required.

Innovations for a specific company need

Entrepreneurs can also follow one of the two trajectories of ANTWERP. POWERED BY CREATIVES, working on applied or strategic innovation. Applied innovation aims to work on a clear and specific solution, where strategic innovation requires external expertise to determine a company’s needs.

At least three Antwerp innovation experts discuss your company’s needs in an individual interview. ANTWERP. POWERED BY CREATIVES. selects these professionals. If there is a match, the appropriate expert will start a trajectory with your company. The city of Antwerp supports each project with a 500 EUR voucher. On average, applied innovation costs 1000 EUR ex VAT, while its strategic counterpart costs up to 2000 EUR ex VAT.

Do you want to participate in one of the two trajectories?
Fill in our questionnaire. If your company qualifies for one of these innovation trajectories, an intake interview will follow.

Antwerp World Diamond Centre

The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) defends the interests of the Antwerp diamond sector and promotes Antwerp diamonds around the world. AWDC also acts as a spokesperson and as a coordinator of all activities of the Antwerp diamond sector. HRD Antwerp provides commercial services. One of these services, besides gemmology courses, research and development, is the certification of polished diamonds. This is done by the HRD Antwerp Diamond Lab, the first ISO certified laboratory that provides an objective description of a diamond’s qualities (the 4 Cs). Globally, HRD Antwerp distributes renowned certificates for diamonds, guaranteeing quality, tradition and transparency. As said, a diamond’s quality is determined by the 4 Cs: Carat (or weight), Colour, Clarity and Cut. Since every diamond is unique, determining the 4 Cs ensures that the diamond can be identified at any moment. The certificate thus functions as a diamond’s ‘identity card.’

What AWDC can do for you

AWDC offers a wide array of services, information and benefits to Antwerp’s diamond professionals and those that wish to join the business community. Start up your own company; find out all there is to know on specific regulations and doing business in Antwerp, with the help of the AWDC business contact guide; find Antwerp registered diamond companies; learn all about imports and exports through the Diamond Office, the in-house Tender Facility or connect with the right employees for your company via the AWDC AD job platform. Browse through the data resources including documents, trade intelligence and useful publications and find answers on financial and fiscal questions.

What the city can do for you

The city provides services as the SPOC to the Antwerp diamond sector. Taking initiatives to enhance growth opportunities of companies in the diamond sector and of the sector in its entirety, contributing to compliance, involving the sector in economic missions, are all part of the city’s activities. Also, the city facilitates business matching of diamond companies, jewellers , design and a broader spectrum of organisations.


Antwerp's Most Brilliant

When speaking about diamonds, people often refer to certificates, but there are two different kinds.

Rough diamonds must be accompanied by a Kimberley Process certificate, guaranteeing these rough stones are conflict-free.

Polished diamonds on the other hand can be accompanied by a polished diamond certificate, preferably from one of three reputable diamond grading labs: HRD Antwerp, IGI or GIA. These labs confirm the diamond’s authenticity, whether it is a natural, lab-grown or treated diamond and describe its characteristics - Carat, Clarity, Cut and Colour.

When you are planning to buy a polished diamond, our advice is to always ask for a certificate from a well-reputed grading lab.

Finally, the city of Antwerp and AWDC have introduced a quality label for jewellers called Antwerp’s Most Brilliant. The label provides consumers and visitors a guarantee of quality and strengthens the image of Antwerp as a centre for jewellery. Jewellers who are awarded the label fulfil 30 criteria and are audited by an independent accredited auditing office. Both creative jewellers with whom the design is central and diamond jewellers are eligible.

Thanks to this label, consumers can buy jewellery with confidence. Labelled jewellers are recognizable from the sticker in the shop window ‘Antwerp’s Most Brilliant Officially Certified Jeweller’. Antwerp’s Most Brilliant jewellers are listed in a free flyer available in 6 languages from Visit Antwerp.

Antwerp Loves Diamonds

Antwerp Loves Diamonds app

Thanks to this app, everyone can now discover how Antwerp’s diamond story started and what goes on behind closed doors in the diamond district. Learn everything there is to know about diamonds in Antwerp in the eight themes of this app, which virtually opens the door of this industry. This application is available in four languages and can be downloaded for free from the App store or the Google Play store.

Antwerp Loves Diamonds map

The ‘Antwerp loves diamonds’ map will take you on a tour of Antwerp’s diamond history. The map provides an overview of historical and contemporary venues, as well as unique tips and useful information about Antwerp as a jewellery city.

You can obtain a free map as well as information about the city’s guided diamond walk from the tourist information desks in Central Station (at the bottom of the escalator) and in Grote Markt. Opening hours: daily from 9 a.m. until 5.45 p.m., until 4.45 p.m. on Sundays.

Visit behind the scenes

During this activity visitors will be given a glimpse behind the scenes of a diamond polishing workshop and a diamond exchange, places that an outsider never gets to see. A visit is possible for groups up to 20 people and can be booked through DIVA. Reservations necessary, minimum 4 weeks in advance. Visits only between 10 a.m. and 12 a.m.

DIVA Antwerp Home of Diamonds

DIVA is the new place-to-be to find out what diamonds are all about. DIVA will provide a unique experience showcasing the brilliant Antwerp story and offering an exciting excursion through the Antwerp diamond story. From May 2018 onwards, everyone is welcome to discover this tantalizing collection of diamonds, and also jewellery and silversmithing. From autumn 2018, DIVA will be the perfect location for MICE activities. More information via info@divaantwerp.be.

Innovate Antwerp, published by The Global Village, is part of a publication series on worldwide innovative ecosystems. Antwerp is the first region in the European Union that is featured in the series. In the book, readers discover a wide range of initiatives, companies and people that focus on innovation.
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While it is clear COVID-19 had a major impact on what will be recorded in history as one of the most difficult years ever for the global diamond industry, Antwerp managed to keep the engines running in 2020, fueled by nearly 100 rough tenders.