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The Diamond Trade: Diamond Bourses of Antwerp

Diamond Bourses

Article Copyright © 2009

The word "Bourse" refers to a private stock, bond, or commodities exchange similar to the NYSE. Diamond Bourses are basically trading exchanges for loose, cut and uncut diamonds. The largest diamond trading center in the world is located in Antwerp, Belgium but there are also Diamond Bourses in Israel, Hong Kong, London, Moscow, and Shanghai. Almost 85% of the world's rough diamonds, and about half of the polished diamonds, are sold in Antwerp every year, and the city is the hub of the global diamond trading industry (diamanthandel).

Within Antwerp's diamond district, also known as the "World Diamond Center" or Diamantenzentrum, some 1,500 diamond dealers (diamantbedrijven) are ensconced in small, heavily guarded geographic area surrounded by three main streets, Hoveniersstraat, Schupstraat, and Rijfstraat.

Antwerp's Diamond District

Two of the oldest Diamond Bourse (Bourse van de diamant or diamantenbšrsen) in Antwerp were the 'Diamond Club of Antwerp' (Diamantclub van Antwerpen—at Pelikaanstraat 62, founded in 1893—and the Beurs voor Diamanthande (at Pelikaanstraat 78) founded in 1904 [1]. Both bourse were founded by Hasidim diamantairs, and both are still in operation today. These first trading exchanges mainly dealt with the wholesaling of cut stones.

Beurs voor Diamanthandel - Photo: Wiki Public

   Map of Belgium

The first trading exchange to deal exclusively with rough, uncut diamonds was the Antwerpsche Diamantkring (Antwerp Diamond Ring) [2], which was established in the same year that the 1930 World Expo was held in Antwerp.

Members of the Diamond Bourses operate within a system based on mutual trust and each member pledges to uphold the traditions and principles of consideration, friendship and trust [2]. Most transactions conducted within the Bourses done with cash and a handshake, and disputes are handled by an internal arbitration process.

After the liberation, and repatriation of Antwerp following the end of WWII, the Antwerpsche Diamantkring was reopened, and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) was founded in 1947. Control over the diamond trade is maintained through the WFDB's Constitution containing a series of rules, regulations, an by-laws that govern business practices, ethics and morality.

Antwerp City Map

   Antwerp Diamond District Map

In Antwerp's 'Diamond Center' (Diamantenzentrum) today, there are around 4000 diamond-cutters (diamantaire) working in the several-square-block diamond district, bisected by Hoveniersstraat street. Around $16+ billion in polished diamonds pass through Antwerp's diamond bourses each year, making it the largest diamond-trading center in the world [3].

The Diamond High Council (HRD)

The HRD (Hoge Raad voor Diamant) Diamond High Council is a non-profit industry organization designed to promote and represent the Antwerp diamond trade. The HRD Certificates Department was founded in 1976 to meet an increased demand for quality diamond certificates [9]. The research arm of the HRD works in conjunction with Rijksuniversitair Centrum Antwerpen (Antwerp University RUCA) to increase the diamond knowledge-base.

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Bibliography and Suggested further reading on Diamond Bourses:

1. Diamond News, Diamond Club Lists .

2. Antwerpsche Diamantkring, Antwerp Diamond Bourse .

3. Int. Herald Tribune, Charles Goldsmith, Antwerp Diamonds Lose Cutting Edge .

4. WDC, World Diamond Council .

5. United Nations, The U.N. On Conflict Diamonds .

6. De Beers, Market for Diamonds .

7. WFDB, World Federation of Diamond Bourses .

8. Diamond Direct, Antwerpen, Centrum Van de Diamanthandel .

9. HRD, HRD Diamond High Council .

10. BVDG, Belgische Vereniging van Handelaars in Geslepen Diamant .

11. Tourism Antwerp, Visit the Antwerp World Diamond Center .

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