Antwerp, World Diamond Capital
© Diamond Bourse Antwerp
The biggest and the first
The Diamond District is located right in the centre of the city, close to its monumental Central Station. Although concentrated in less than one square mile, more than 1600 registered diamond traders are active here. Today, the diamond industry comprises 14% of Belgian export to non-EU countries. Antwerp controls over 85% of the world’s trade in rough diamonds and 50% of trade in polished diamonds. Each day, $220 million worth of diamonds are traded and physically handled, amounting to an amazing $47 billion annually (ten-year average).
Antwerp has four Diamond Bourses, or exchanges, acting as marketplaces where diamond sellers and buyers can meet in friendly surroundings. It is possible to display and examine the goods under high-tech conditions, while an open atmosphere helps to encourage healthy competition.
Antwerp has traded in diamonds as far back as 1447 AD. Barely a century later, the city had become the New York of its era: an international metropolis, with a shining role for the diamond industry. Today, Antwerp remains home to the most renowned diamond cutters and creative master polishers worldwide. The diamond industry aspires to innovate, with a strong focus on prototyping and innovative technological developments. Furthermore, Antwerp has taken on a leadership role in consumer confidence; Antwerp cares about both compliance and transparency.
Did you know the most popular diamond cut in the world, ‘The Brilliant’, was invented in Antwerp in 1919 by Marcel Tolkowsky? This diamond polisher was barely 19 years old when he discovered a simple mathematical formula by which diamonds could be cut to make the most of their light, brilliance and fire. Tolkowsy’s calculations would serve as the foundation for all future brilliant-cut modifications and standards. Today, three-quarters of all colourless diamonds are cut in this brilliant, 57-faceted shape.
The most transparent
The Antwerp diamond trade is famous for its transparency. An unrivalled focus on compliance and transparency is the true secret of Antwerp’s success. It is also one of the reasons the Natural Diamond Council set up its European laboratory for testing verification equipment in Antwerp.
Through the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, Antwerp has taken on a leadership role in consumer confidence. Antwerp is firm in its rejection of diamonds from conflict areas. Working collaboratively with the Belgian federal government, all import and export is controlled physically through the Diamond Office (DO), which serves as an example for diamond centres worldwide.
Unique in compliance
A diamond’s quality is determined by the four C’s: Carat (weight), Colour, Clarity and Cut. Determining these four C’s ensures the identification of a certified diamond.
Compliance with the applicable rules and laws is known as the “fifth C”. For the past decade, Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) has maintained a strategic focus on transparency and compliance for the Antwerp diamond industry. Antwerp implements the highest diamond trading and manufacturing standards worldwide.
Belgium's regulatory framework on compliance is by far the strictest in the world. The government’s Diamond Office maintains 100% control over all imported and exported diamonds. AWDC supports Antwerp diamond companies in achieving these standards through tailor-made education, training and online guides on how to do business.
Antwerp’s Most Brilliant jewellers
The city of Antwerp and AWDC have created a quality label for jewellers, called Antwerp’s Most Brilliant. The label provides consumers and visitors with a guarantee of quality and strengthens Antwerp’s reputation as a jewellery destination. To be awarded the label, jewellers must fulfil nine criteria and undergo auditing by an independent accredited auditing office. Creative jewellers with a focus on design are eligible, as are diamond jewellers.
Thanks to this label, consumers can buy jewellery with confidence. Labelled jewellers are recognizable by a sticker in their shop window with the words ‘Antwerp’s Most Brilliant Officially Certified Jeweller’. Campaigns are set up to promote these jewellers, both locally within the city and internationally to visitors with an interest in purchasing Antwerp diamonds and jewellery.
Obtain the Antwerp's Most Brilliant-label
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- Discover all the Antwerp’s Most Brilliant jewellers online
- Discover Antwerp’s Most Brilliant jewellers on foot
- Discover Antwerp’s Most Brilliant in the historic centre. Take a walk with the “Diamond and jewellery tour" podcast
- Browse the brochure Antwerp's Most Brilliant jewellers 2023
Innovation is key
Antwerp encourages diamond industry entrepreneurs to innovate, because they are the ones who must lead the way in innovating their industry. The city offers financial support for new initiatives that can future-proof Antwerp’s diamond industry.
The city supports diamond companies eager to innovate
Companies that wish to develop new opportunities can submit their innovation projects for support. The city of Antwerp stimulates innovation in the sector through two different programmes.
Fill in this questionnaire online to determine which programme is applicable to your project. If your company qualifies for support, an intake interview will follow.
Innovation of relevance to the entire diamond industry
Until 2025, it is possible to submit innovation projects of relevance to the entire diamond industry for the Antwerp Diamond Innovation Opportunities programme. On being accepted, companies will receive one year of free innovation coaching and expertise provided by Verhaert | Masters in Innovation.
The innovation should serve to future-proof the Antwerp diamond industry in finance, digitalisation, automation and robotisation, data analysis, cross-industry networking and sustainability & ESG.
In 2023, four companies worked out 3 innovation projects. Discover them in the 2023 report.
Four new innovation trajectories were launched in 2022. Discover them in this report.
Matchmaking for your own business’s innovation
When an innovation project is intended to future-proof your own company, it is important to find the right partner to grow your business, be it through innovation, R&D, cross-industry networking or by other means. ANTWERP. POWERED BY CREATIVES. (APBC) connects you with the perfect partner according to your innovation needs. This programme runs from the formulation of a clear innovation definition to finding an appropriate creative partner and designing a solution.
Want to find out how creatives can help you innovate? E-mail your questions to have us get back to you shortly.
Innovation in Antwerp
Innovation: 3D model to locate imperfections in a diamond
The Diamcad process starts with an in-house, high-precision scan of the rough diamond. This scanning technique was developed in collaboration with the University of Antwerp and produces an accurate 3D model. This allows for the precise location and identification of any imperfections within the stone.
Innovation: supply chain transparency and automated cutting
Where Diamcad is an early innovation adopter, HB Antwerp is the new kid on the block. This young company has managed to establish a fully transparent, closed circuit diamond supply chain, all the way from the mine in Botswana to manufacturing in Antwerp. HB has developed an automated cutting machine and uses blockchain technology to enhance transparency, security, and traceability. This is unprecedented in the diamond industry. They also recently introduced NFTs for diamonds (non-fungible tokens, a new business model in the Metaverse world).
Finding the very best location for your diamond business
Antwerp combines the best of all worlds: home to a busy port for access to international trade opportunities and with the administrative city of Brussels close by. Antwerp is the perfect gateway to Europe and the rest of the world. It is close to all of Europe’s major consumer markets, with 60% of Europe’s purchasing power located within only 500 kilometres of the city. The heart of the diamond trade lies within the ‘Antwerp Diamond Square Mile’, a secured area located in the Central Business District near the Central Railway Station. A wide range of secure office locations are available in close proximity to high-speed train connections to Brussels, Amsterdam and Paris.
If your company is involved in diamond production rather than trade, why not look for a location at one of our Antwerp commercial sites right by the port? Our newest industrial sites are BlueGate Antwerp, Innovative City Port and NxtGen District. All three sites are highly modern and sure to fulfil your technical requirements.
For tailored advice on locations, e-mail the city’s Investdesk.
Support for diamond traders, jewellers and industry professionals
As the official representative body of the diamond community, Antwerp World Diamond Center offers a full array of services to Antwerp’s diamond professionals and those interested in joining this business community. In support of a thriving, sustainable and transparent industry, AWDC’s experts offer assistance with various activities such as help starting a diamond business, provision of general legal & Anti-Money Laundering (AML) information, tailored advice and training.
Diamond grading report (DGR)
A DGR describes the 5 Cs for a specific diamond. Jewellers with an Antwerp's Most Brilliant label will automatically supply customers with a DGR from HRD Antwerp (Hoge Raad voor Diamant Antwerpen), the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), the IGI (International Gemological Institute) or the IIDGR (International Institute of Diamond Grading and Research).
Natural diamonds: if the DGR states that a customer has bought a natural diamond, they can be certain the diamond they have purchased is millions of years old.