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The Diamond Bourse in Antwerp

At the end of the last century thanks to the discovery of diamond mines in South Africa, Antwerp became the world diamond platform. Production was literally dumped onto the small town in the north of Belgium. The first Diamond Bourse opened their doors in Antwerp. The term “Bourse” brings to mind images of large diamond auction houses as seen on television in documentaries on the stock exchanges. A Diamond Bourse does not correspond to this cliché as it is not linked to speculation !

The risks are calculated: every offer or demand is keenly assessed and discussed. Bundles are presented to potential clients and the discussion takes place around a table, without haste, and focuses on the quality and the value of the bundles. Never is there a raised voice, a certain standing is required.

All traders in the diamond Bourse room must wear a tie. Should they forget, they will be loaned one. Near to the tables, telephones enable brokers to quickly contact one or other of the offices.

Around 10 am, the stock rooms fill with brokers, merchants and manufacturers.
Small groups talk and consult large tables showing the demands from different offices. While one firm puts in a request to replenish their stock, another must meet the needs of foreign buyers.

Towards 12 pm, the room is full. Some of the brokers have bags full of merchandise and hurry towards potential clients.
Some foreign buyers, who are admitted to the room, settle close to the large, panoramic, north-facing windows where the light conditions are ideal for observing the stones.
The calm morning atmosphere is replaced by a tenser ambience. Congregations form around the monitors that indicate the latest dollar, or other currency rates.

Towards 1 pm, lunchtime, the tension drops. It is quieter in the afternoon. Some older diamond merchants gather for a game of chess or cards, while the younger generation continues the frantic, “hunt” for a client or goods.

Being a member of a Bourse binds the diamond merchant to strict regulations with a risk of sanction for those who do not “play” the game correctly. When a member is dismissed for serious misconduct, they are automatically dismissed from the other Bourses too. Their name and photo is displayed in all rooms around the world with the reason for their dismissal.

Another advantage of a Bourse is the security that it provides. TA complete protection network (electronics, cameras, security guards) is established.
For this reason, diamond merchants also seek to establish their offices close to a Bourse, or even in the same building.
It is a fact that, besides the security equipment, the short distances between the private office and the Bourse and the underground vaults are a very important security issue for such precious stones.

photo of the central hall of the Antwerp Diamond Bourse

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