I had to search for my scrapbook to see when I visited Antwerp, Belgium, for the first time. It turns out it was early July 1995, when I spent a few days there with a friend. Of course we didn’t have much money so we decided to stay at the youth hotel. Amazingly they still had francs in Belgium and we actually sent a fax to confirm our stay. Those were the days and memories slowly come back when seeing all these photos from 23 years ago.
At the time Antwerpen had the Provinciaal Diamantmuseum – the biggest diamond museum in the world – which we visited. “Antwerp, a diamond’s best friend” a piece of an advertisement in my scrapbook says. There was an exhibition about Italian Art Jewelry from 1950 to present. The other part of the museum taught us about the history of the diamond, the diamond trade, etc. My scrapbook shortly says: “It was rather nice, but less interesting than we had thought”.
Well, the museum I once visited, closed its doors years ago. And on its last location closed in 2012 and only reopened on yet another location- on the Suikerrui – early May 2018 as DIVA. The new museum is situated in the centre of the city and the new concept should make Antwerp more visible as the world capital of the diamond. It also is more interactive with touchscreens and other modern features. Looking through the old brochure, I think the collection has at least partly remained the same.
The whole proces of cutting diamonds, etc. doesn’t really interest me, but the museum’s collection is beautiful if you like jewelry and silverware.It exists of six rooms with six stories: the Room of Wonders, the atelier, the international trading room, the dining room, the vault and the boudoir.
I especially liked the the Room of Wonders, the dining room and the boudoir. The last one has the most wonderful treasures.
It is just a pity that the museum is rather dark and some items are placed somewhat high. Taking pictures by times was quite a challenge for me and sometimes it really didn’t work out. Don’t miss the beautiful tiara in the hall. Surprisingly when I visited – on a Saturday – it wasn’t very busy. I suppose people were enjoying the warm weather outside.
I wasn’t going to buy any books in Antwerp, really. But I couldn’t resist buying a copy of the Dutch version of “Koh-I-Noor. The History of the World’s most infamous Diamond” by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand in the lovely museum shop. I just finished reading and truly enjoyed it. For a book review by The Court Jeweller see here.