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Feel like doing some culturally responsible shopping and admiring some diamonds?


Did Peter Paul Rubens smuggle diamonds?

Antwerp is the diamond capital of the world. Nowadays, approximately 80% of all rough diamonds are traded in Antwerp. But the history of diamond trading goes back many centuries. Ever since the 15th century, Antwerp played a key role in the diamond trade and cutting industry. The diamond trade is more than just business. From a cultural and artistic heritage perspective, Antwerp has a story or two to tell about these little rocks.

Did Peter Paul Rubens smuggle diamonds?

At the time, portraits were a reflection of your wealth. Posing in fashionable and lavish costumes was the norm. The bourgeoisie are draped in jewels, pearls and diamonds in these paintings. Many of those precious valuables were lost, but a necklace with 25 cut rock crystals set in gold, and 25 roses decorated with red and white enamel, can still be seen at the Rubens House

Even in Rubens' days, diamonds had to be kept somewhere safe. A beautiful example is the art cabinet in the bedroom of the Rubens House. If only our modern day safes looked this pretty. The doors and drawers are adorned with small paintings. The cabinet is used to conceal valuable items and some of the compartments have hidden drawers and false bottoms. They would be used to hide love letters or to smuggle diamonds, lace or other expensive items. 

Interested in finding out more about the Antwerp diamond?

Visit the diamond district at the Central Station and don't miss out on the stunning station concourse. This station always figures at the top of any list of the most beautiful stations in the world. Book a walk in the diamond district or visit DIVA, Antwerp Home of Diamonds, which is the new museum for diamonds, jewels and gold & silverware that opened its doors in May 2018. Plan your visit.

Does the thought of diamonds and romance make you daydream?

I can highly recommend the following activities. 


Bruges is the most romantic city in Flanders, and what makes it even better, is the fact it also has a Diamond museum. Before Antwerp became the diamond capital at the beginning of the 16th century, trading diamonds predominantly took place in Bruges where the presence of Burgundian monarchs in the city certainly contributed to this thriving business. Plan your visit.

Venus_001 - Helena Fourment (c)

Helena Fourment - © Rubenshuis Antwerpen

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