Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Antwerp – The Diamond City

This city is called diamond city as world’s one of the finest diamonds are produced and more than 70% of all diamonds in the world are traded in Antwerp. Not going into statistics but do you know who does the major chunk of business here ? Well, one can find many Indians settled in Antwerp mostly from Gujarati / Marwari business community. Sorry, I don’t know the difference between them except that Gujratis are from Gujrat and Marwaris are from Marwar (something like my first logic). :) Someone please enlighten me on this. Needless to say why I was surprised initially when I saw many Indian restaurants there.

In spite of this museum being adjacent to the station, we could manage only about an hour’s quality time inside it. Again this multi-storied museum is the largest diamond museum in the world. According to me, minimum of one full day is required to do justice with it.

It is also called 'interactive museum' as there is an audio-visual guide which enables us to ‘interact’ with the museum in the select few languages of our choice and at our own pace. It is an 'image and sound' system which takes visitors through the entire procedure of diamond processing – from mines to end product including training, teaching etc. at various levels.

On each floor there are some treasure chambers whose wonderful collections of jewelry offer a treat to eyes. They have diamond jewelries from the sixteenth century till the present day including replica of the British Crown Jewels containing two of the world's largest diamonds- the Koh-I-Noor and the Cullinan I. The only other place I saw more realistic replica of British crown was in Sydney.

The museum also has section which shows us the qualities of diamonds, such as color, hardness, refraction of light etc. On some days we can see diamond cutters at work too.

The four C’s – Carat, Colour, Clarity and Cut – determine the quality and value of a polished diamond. Since this is not a place to lecture about diamonds, will tell you very little basics about these four C’s.

Carats - Weight is expressed in carats, each carat divided into 100 points.
Colour - Colourless diamonds are the most valuable ones. The more tinted colour they have, the less expensive they are.
Clarity - Clarity or purity of a diamond is determined by the number, size and location of inclusions or clouds (internal impurities). These can vary from vvs (very very small) to s(small) category.
Cut – Even if a diamond has perfect colour and clarity, a poorly cut diamond will lose sparkle, beauty and value. The cut affects brightness and classified as Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair or Poor. Some common diamond cuts are round, oval, pear, heart, emerald.

Fortunately we could take some photographs without flash in some sections of this tight security museum.

10 comments:

Bendtherulz said...

Aha Girls Best friend - Diamond !!
Good short post....! I love going to museum and check out all the stuff.

Interative audio video thingy....this might have worked for you...in a museum...gosh it was spooky @ Alcatraz...lol...!

Marwari community is from Rajasthan - basically the traders community and very adeventurous ( when it comes to taking risk and making money- I think they can smell the money) as they were ready to uproot themselves and settle every where - you would find a healthy group at Gujerat/Calcutta/Chennai and Antwerp...!

Ash said...

Girls best friends indeed :-)

Very nice post...

Cuckoo said...

BTR,
Thank you. Yes, indeed diamonds are girls’ best friends but I can be made happy with a bunch of colourful flowers also. ;) On the other hand, I don’t mind a few diamonds coming my way. ;)

Thanks for the info on Marwaris. I think that’s a good quality if they are ready to uproot themselves (hmmm but not for money pls). Oh yeah, Kolkata has lots of them.

ASH,
Welcome to my blog. Thanks for liking the post.
Keep coming.

Mridula said...

Lovely diamonds indeed. They look so huge.

Cuckoo said...

Mridula,
That's a close up !! It was to show you the difference in colour of these diamonds which is quite evident. Also you can see the impurities in some of them. Cut is also different.

In short, you can see all the four C's. :)))

Sigma said...

Hmmm .. your "first logic" continues to drive you to date :-D

Nice post. Girl's best friends or not, they are beautiful! And a thing of beauty is a joy forever :-)

Prashanth M said...

lol @ your anfoter first logic. And thanks for those details on daimonds :)

niki yokota said...

goshhhh
your photos look really great!!
i want that heart shape diamond.. :)

Cuckoo said...

Sigma, Prashanth & Nikichan,

Thank you.

Anju Patel said...

Know about another diamond City of the world


SURAT DIAMONDS

Surat –

Surat is one of the important industrial towns in India with its major contribution coming from textiles and diamonds. Surat is also relatively popular for its silk and chemicals. The people of Surat have proved to be tenacious fighting back from various natural calamities and disasters like earth quakes, floods, plague, etc. Surat has in fact stunned the world bouncing back every time with determination and progressing rapidly especially in the textile and diamond industry.

Diamond City – Surat

For ages Surat has been dominant in the field of diamond cutting and polishing. Reasons for the development of this industry here is the availability of skilled labour at low cost as compared to other states in India and a huge demand for quality diamonds from all over the world. Around 700,000 workers are employed in over 10000 diamond cutting and finishing factories in and around Surat. Surat generates huge profits for the country from diamond exports every year.

Workers –

One third of the population of Surat is a part of the flourishing diamond industry. Population of Surat thrives on diamond and textile related job opportunities. Apart from this, a lot of people from all over India have found employment in the diamond field here. There are a total of 10000 diamond processing units in the city of Surat employing around fifteen lakh people. New initiatives by the government of Gujarat aim at training diamond cutters in jewellery making thereby providing them with a wider scope in this industry.

Jewellery Park in Surat

The jewellery park in Surat, which is under construction is expected to function full swing in a couple of years from now. This park, which is one of the largest of its kind, is set in an area of around 10-lakh sq.m. With a lot of units planning to open up here, Surat will face a need for a lot of skilled workers. The Government of Gujarat with the help and guidance of the Central Government has started planning in this area by training existing as well as new recruits in jewellery making.

Machinery

The Diamond industry in Surat is the largest user of laser machines in India. Apart from this, the diamond factories in Surat also extensively use modern equipments like polishing machines, which are semi automatic and automatic and diamond planners, which are computerized. The Indian diamond institute, which is located in Surat, also promotes the diamond holders, which are semi automatic displaying this device in various exhibitions organized by the institute. This holder enables the artisan to be seated more comfortably while he or she works on the diamond. These innovative holders are also referred to as dops. Dops enabled even the ordinary worker to give good quality cuts.

Exports –

Diamonds from Surat are exported to a lot of countries all over the world. Exports are routed through exporters based in Mumbai. It is mandatory that exporters of diamonds should be registered with the Gem and Jewelry Export Promotion Council located in Mumbai. Diamonds and stones of different sizes and shapes are exported to countries like the United States of America, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan and Belgium. United States of America, Switzerland and Japan are the primary consumer markets for diamonds.

Associations -

There are various institutions associated with the diamond industry based in Surat which act as governing bodies in deciding policies and other matters related to this industry. The Suyrat Hira Bourse or SHB in Surat, which was instituted in the year 1994 helps in the promotion of international trade. The Indian Diamond Institute located in Surat provides quality training to artisans and workers in cutting and polishing diamonds. The Diamond Industrial Park in Surat is one of a kind, which houses around 1000 units in its premises out of which around 340 firms are operational as of now. The Surat Diamonds Cutters Association is an organization, which supports and negotiates with the government for the benefit of the diamond manufacturers.
Benefits –
The diamond industry in Surat is not categorized under the small-scale industry in spite of this being a cottage industry comprising mainly skilled artisans. The Government of Gujarat though has been offering a lot of beneficial incentives to this industry from its inception. Incentives offered by the Government include promotion of trade by exemption of sales tax. Government also aids this industry in acquiring advanced technology, which is now used for cutting and polishing.
Domestic market –
With the boom in the Indian economy, there is a sharp increase in the demand for diamond-studded jewellery in the country. A lot of manufacturers of diamond stones across Surat are now planning on expanding into making of diamond studded gold jewellery. Artisans who have been cutting and polishing diamonds are now being trained in jewellery making thereby widening their employment prospects. With more and more diamond cutting and polishing units being set up in China and other African countries, Surat is no longer a monopoly in this field. This fact has furthered the cause of workers shifting over to the more lucrative field of jewellery making.
In spite of the threat –
The quality of diamonds finished in China and other African countries has been improving tremendously of late. This has cast a dark cloud over the diamond-manufacturing units in Surat. Being tenacious, the diamond merchants of this state have yet again bounced back training their artisans in diamond studded jewellery making, captivating the local market. They sparkle through the clouds even as they invent means to stabilize their international presence. The diamond manufacturers and the artisans have thus advanced further in their field sustaining their profits even as they glitter in various stores in India.