History of the Diamondguild 1582-1982-2005

Twenty years after the foundation of the Federation of Tradesmen and Manufacturers of colour stones we can look back to the results and approach of the Guild. The Diamondguild was created in October 1982, by 15 firms, specialized in colour precious stones.
Four hundred years ago, a similar federation had been founded of with the same number of members according to the decree of October 25th, 1582, discovered in the archives of the city of Antwerp. It is impossible to discover exactly when the first diamond and ruby polishing factories started in our region. The only sources we can refer to are the requests of the deans, where they ask for favours and allowances to extend the profession of diamond polishing or ask for measures to defend themselves against the “scruplesness of foreign dealers”.
Some of them called on the magistracy in 1447, a decree warned people for fake stones. Inside the city walls of Antwerp it was forbidden to buy or sell fake stones. Another historical source mentions a confession of guilt of a polisher, dated l496 Other manuscripts confirm that a lot of polishers came to Antwerp see e.g. a religious accusation of February 20th, 1534 where diamond polisher N.Lieven, born in Ghent was located as the inhabitant of a house behind the Church of St. Andries in Antwerp.
We have to wait till 1577 before we find the first request to found a “Guild for the benefit of the traders and buyers and for the glory of the city”. The Guild was founded in 1582, as a result of a crisis, ... which made a lot of victims in the diamond and precious stones sector It is important to stress that the Guild was established under a Calvinistic regime. A fact that will use later on to dissolve the Guild.
Unfortunately, the articles of association were not juridical structured. Therefore, it did not take long before the first quarrels broke out between diamond polishers and ruby polishers. On June 25th, 1584, it comes to a definite split between precious stones cutters and diamond polishers.
The ruby polishers keep the decree of 1582 and ask for guarantees to the magistracy so that the Guild could survive without too many problems. On June 8th, 1627, one of the members S. Servaes, drops a complaint stating that the membership fee was too high. And even more, he asks Burgomaster and Aldermen of the city to condemn the Guild.
The city took side against the Guild, which in the eyes of the authorities used too much pressure on its members. Also the closed character of the group was a problem. The “Guild” was condemned. Later on, it appeared to be a rather unfortunate decision S. Servaes fled away and left a crowd of swindles, this to the great irony and pleasure of the Guild.
The difficulties kept growing until ruby and diamond polishers were reunited on March 21st, 1631. The new group was called “diamond and ruby polishers craft”.
When the Guild was founded it had 15 members, of which traders, dealers, manufacturers, brokers, wholesalers and import and export firms. Today, the Diamondguild counts over 100 members, all firms, which were subjected to a severe examination on professional skill, competence, honesty, etc.
An arbitration committee is at the disposal of its members. The commissioners are all official experts. The commission protects its members, but also the customers because the deontological code of the Federation guarantees the trustworthiness of its members. More and more, synthetic and treated stones as well as better imitations appear on the market, which enhances the abuse of confidence. The retailer however must be able to rely on his supplier, a confidence that can only be guaranteed by members of the Diamondguild.
In October 1983, the Diamondguild organized the first European Precious Stones Conference, which knew a resounding success. The two-day conference and precious stones exhibition took place in the impressive halls of the Province House of Antwerp.
Two years later, the second Conference was held again in the Province House. During three days, thousands of visitors came to the conference and the exhibitions, which were held in the aula and monumental foyer of the Province House where an extraordinary collection of precious stones could be admired.
The conference could rejoice an international media coverage. The efforts made by the members and the administration of the Diamondguild generates now positive results.
Antwerp becomes more and more important as a centre for precious stones, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. During the last twenty years the Diamondguild organized more than 8 International Conferences, a lot of exhibitions for the private individuals and business meetings for professionals. This is to the advantage of all professionals.
On July 2003 HRH the Prince of Luxemburg accepted the title of President of The Diamondguild.
At the same time the Guild started a new campaign to promote the diamond and precious stones sector:
The patented certificate 5C’s for his members. This means that the Guild gives the warranty that the purchased stones are:
  • Clean origin
  • Not from Conflict country’s
  • Cut in good condition
  • Not from Children labour
  • Not from Criminal origin
The consumer will received this document together with a Smart Card with full details of certification. The aim of the Federation can be summarized as follows:
  • to make Antwerp the world centre for diamond and precious stones trade and industry;
  • the image building: create a base of trust, scientific research (through the HRD Institute of Gemmology) in cooperation with the universities in Belgium and abroad; 
  • to stimulate the sales of the precious stones on an international level. All this should urge potential buyers of diamonds and coloured precious stones to come to Antwerp.
Eddy Vleeschdrager
President of the Diamondguild
T: +32.478.11.83.99