The Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century saw Amsterdam established as a great international power, its trade, science, art and culture respected across the world. One industry in particular came to the fore during this time, and is still going strong in Amsterdam today: diamonds. Gemstones had been worked by skilled craftsmen in the city since the 16th century, and as the wealth of the city grew and grew, so did the international demand for these most precious of stones. Today, the Dutch capital remains one of the best places in the world to buy diamonds, its leading purveyors offering exemplary stones and jewellery in every style from classic to contemporary.
Quality is key
‘A diamond is the most precious and finest stone in the world. It keeps its value because it is very rare,’ explains Denis Wortelboer, director of travel-retail at Schaap en Citroen. His advice when it comes to buying is to ‘focus not only on the lovely diamond jewellery, but also on the quality of the diamond and the certificate. Pay attention to the four Cs and find out the one C that suits you most.’
The four C’s
The four Cs – carat, colour, clarity and cut – are the cornerstones of the diamond industry. It is through these that every diamond is graded. As Wortelboer says, every individual will feel differently about which element is most important, and at an established diamond expert such as Schaap en Citroen, there will be highly trained (and multilingual) staff on hand to guide clients to the stone that’s exactly right for them.
Schaap en Citroen
Schaap en Citroen was created by the coming together of two established brands – Schaap, founded in 1888, and Citroen, which began life in 1827. Today the name is recognised across the world as a leading purveyor of fine watches and jewellery. As well as offering diamond jewellery from leading international names – Pommelato, Chopard and Marco Bicego are just a few – the team also creates its own stunning range of handcrafted platinum diamond jewellery: SC 1888. ‘Besides being the trendsetter for the European market, we also follow trends globally,’ says Wortelboer of Schaap en Citroen’s expansive range of diamond jewellery. ‘Therefore we can provide the highest quality jewellery for all of our international clientele.’
Another leading expert is Zazare Diamonds, which offers a wide range of beautiful jewellery featuring these precious stones. Rings, earrings and pendants come in an array of both classic and more modern designs, with exquisite diamonds set in 18-carat white, rose or yellow gold. Guided tours – available in various languages – allow visitors to look behind the scenes and receive personalised jewellery advice. These can be booked individually or for couples or larger groups.
The Gassan Diamonds headquarters is housed in an historic building which was formerly a steam-powered diamond factory. Now far more modern, the space is still a centre of excellence, and home to Gassan’s expert team of craftsmen. Guided tours, which are available in 26 languages, allow visitors to discover everything they need to know before buying a diamond, from the significance of the four Cs to the secrets of transforming the rough diamonds into dazzling gems. Gassan has a number of boutiques across the city, where visitors can explore its range of elegant and feminine jewellery, designed to be fashion forward and luxurious yet perfect for every day.
Coster Diamonds is known for its connection to some famous gems. The Koh-i-Noor, a blue-white diamond that is part of the famous crown jewels of Great Britain, was polished by Coster’s experts, as was the Dresden diamond, part of the crown jewels of Saxony. The company has longstanding links with royalty; today Coster continues to cut diamonds for the Dutch royal house.
In 2007, Coster opened its diamond museum, where visitors will find exhibitions about the history of diamonds and of Royal Coster Diamonds, as well as a collection of outstanding and famous stones. The tour also offers a unique opportunity to see talented craftsmen at work, cutting and polishing to perfection, and there are even workshops where participants can be involved in making their own perfect piece of diamond jewellery. ‘We can show you all the secrets of diamonds and their history,’ says marketing and communications director Ronald Koster. This knowledge, he believes, is crucial to ensuring what he describes as the ‘fifth C’: confidence. ‘When you buy a diamond, have confidence in the place you buy it.’
Diamonds are forever
At Coster, the timeless appeal of the diamond means the design team can present a wide array of both classic and fashion-forward jewellery, all featuring these glittering stones. So why does Koster think diamonds have proved so eternally covetable? ‘They’re a symbol of eternity,’ he says. ‘We believe in the beauty of the stone. It’s a rare stone that you will have for ever.’