Antwerp has been connected with diamonds for centuries and has built up a reputation as being a centre of excellence in the production and craft of diamond. These gems were initially bought from India, and later from Africa, while today these jewels glint in the windows of the specialist boutiques to be found along the city’s cobbled streets.
One of the most passionate companies is Dayekh, located on the glossy Appelmansstraat in central Antwerp. ‘Diamonds have been part of the Antwerp heritage for over 500 years,’ says Alexander Dayekh, the company’s CEO. ‘There is so much diamond history here that to be unique is a daunting task. But we’re proud to be able to say that we’ve achieved something never done before. We, in co-operation with the greatest diamond minds in Antwerp, have been able to create and develop new diamond shapes which achieve a higher light performance.’
The Dayekh diamonds story began in the early 1960s in West Africa, where the family ran a mining operation. In 1975, the family opened a diamond polishing business in Antwerp and soon after started to design the diamonds themselves. The family element is an intrinsic part of the Dayekh mix, says Alexander. ‘In other industries most customers don’t care who is leading it, but in diamonds and jewellery customers do care because there is a big element of trust which we need to be aware of. Our customers aren’t diamond experts so they rely on our honesty and professionalism to provide them with whatever they need.’
Location, location, location
The location, too, has been an essential part of Dayekh’s success. ‘Nowhere in the world do we have such a concentration of the industry like we have in Antwerp’s Diamond Square Mile. We are within walking distance of miners, manufacturers, traders and labs, and the advantages are unparalleled,’ he says.
Making the grade
Looking at the array of tear-drop diamond pendants, exquisite tanzanite diamond rings and delicate ruby earrings can be a dizzying experience, but Alexander has some advice for the novice diamond buyer: ‘Research, research, research’. He advises that purchasers obtain a grading certificate from a renowned laboratory, which will ensure the quality of your investment piece. The four elements to consider when selecting a diamond are cut, colour, clarity and carat, and Dayekh adds a fifth, character. ‘We make sure that the character is as high as possible because this relates to light performance. We make sure our diamonds have the best brilliance, dispersion and scintillation possible,’ Alexander explains.
Nature versus nurture
Alongside diamond manufacturing and jewellery design, the brand also offers inscriptions, cleaning and restoration, as well as an in-store evaluation service, for diamonds that have been inherited for example. The company will also assist diamond investors in building up a strong portfolio. Despite the innovations and technology involved in Dayekh’s diamonds, Alexander is eager to emphasis the natural beauty of the most coveted of gemstones. ‘I can’t take credit for nature’s work. Diamonds are made 200km under the earth’s surface at a pressure of 750,000 tonnes per square centimetre over the course of hundreds of millions of years.’ And once they are unearthed? Dayekh transforms them into living works of natural wonder.