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The history of the Antwerp Diamond Center

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1447

First documented record of a diamond trade in Antwerp.

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First documented record of a diamond trade in Antwerp.

1476

Lodewijk van Bercken is said to have method of cutting a diamond with a diamond.

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Lodewijk van Bercken is said to have method of cutting a diamond with a diamond.

1477

Archduke Maximilian of Austria gives a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy, establishing the tradition of diamond engagement rings.

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Archduke Maximilian of Austria gives a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy, establishing the tradition of diamond engagement rings.

1483

Wauter Pauwels is listed as diamond cutter in Antwerp.

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Wauter Pauwels is listed as diamond cutter in Antwerp.

1497

Vasco da Gama opens Portuguese trading route to India. On route he discovers Cape of Good Hope.

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Vasco da Gama opens Portuguese trading route to India. On route he discovers Cape of Good Hope.

By the 15th century Antwerp, which is located on the Scheldt river with direct access to the North Sea, had become a primary diamond centre. It was a position that it has maintained ever since.

The first recorded evidence of the existence of diamond trade in Antwerp was in 1447, when a city magistrate issued an edict demanding that strict measures be taken prevent the trade in false precious stones, including diamonds. In 1483, a certain Wauter Pauwels is listed as a diamond cutter when he is admitted as a member to the Cathedral Fraternity of our Lady’s Honour.

Antwerp’s position in the diamond trade was bolstered further by the discovery of a direct sea route to India by the Portuguese mariner Vasco da Gama in 1498, and the shift in the trade balance from Venice to Lisbon. With relatively easy passage possible between Lisbon and Antwerp, the Flemish city continued to consolidate its position in the diamond trade and industry.