- Antwerp, the diamond city since 1447
- Edict "false stones" 5 centuries old
- Opening of DIVA
The year of the diamond will take place in Antwerp from October 2017 until February 2018. This will be an opportunity to put the Antwerp diamond trade in the spotlight, which exists for more than 570 years. The slogan for this festive year is "Antwerp, the diamond city since 1447".
The municipal councilor of Diamond, Ludo van Campenhout, has requested the city’s archivists to search for the first traces of diamond trading in Antwerp. The first historical documents that indicate the presence of diamond trading in Antwerp date back to 1447 and have been declared by the city magistrate. In the edict, found in the Felix archive, the Mayor Jan Vander Bruges prescribed a commandment under the label "false stones". It was forbidden to trade in fake stones, whereby these stones are proposed as "diamonds", rubies, emeralds or sapphires. For more than five centuries diamonds pass by Antwerp and to date most diamonds first come to Antwerp before they are being traded or processed. What New York is for the money market, is Antwerp for the diamond market.
There had also been found traces in the archives of the Insolvent Estates, which is considered as world heritage by Unesco. Also in the city archives of Antwerp itself are documents that demonstrate the rich history of the Antwerp diamond trade. "So who stubbornly keeps on insisting that Amsterdam was and is the Diamond city, has been set with both feet on the ground," said by Ludo Van Campenhout. To date, five of the thirty diamond exchanges worldwide are still established in Antwerp, where seventy different nationalities work in the sector.
The coming months archivists continue to dig into the Felix registrars looking for more information about the past of diamonds in Antwerp. "We know that diamond trading has always played an important role in the city. Including family De Pret, who has a street in Antwerp, was very active in the diamond trading. Later, the contacts were maintained through the diaspora, which is still now the case", says city archivist Inge Schoups.
The starting shot of the diamond year will be given with a retrospective exhibition at the MAS entitled "objects of desire". Also the Winter of Antwerp will be fully dedicated to DIVA, the new diamond experience center at the Suikerrui.
During the summer months the Antwerp Diamond Center will organize several events in cooperation with the municipality. Among a summer academy around diamond, there will also be a project in primary schools, a street festival, a treasure hunt for a hidden diamond and last but not least an event around Valentine.
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