I recently accompanied a friend on a ring hunting trip in the legendary diamond district in Anwerp Belgium.
We were looking for a small dealer who was recommended by a local person, but when we found the shop on a side street, it was closed for summer holidays. Note – some shops close during the first 2 weeks of August.
So we simply continued along the street, stopping at some shop windows to admire the displays.
At one such window we were greeted by a quietly spoken gentleman, who started giving us information about different gemstones displayed.
Somehow my friend had no plans going into this particular shop, but after a 10-minute conversation on the street, and an invitation to come in for more information, we decided we can go in just to get some answers to some questions.
We were really impressed that the gentleman, whom we now knew to be one of the owners, was not so much trying to sell the stone rather than educate us about the value, specific characteristics and also what to look for and what to avoid when buying a diamond.
I outlined the lessons I learnt about buying diamond in my blog post 10 Lessons Learnt in Diamond District in Antwerp.
1.5 hours of education, information and explanation finally persuaded my friend to trust this dealer and buy from him.
It turns out, that in Antwerp a diamond and a ring are selected separately – you first select a gemstone and then the style of the ring.
When you agree on the price (which can be negotiated) and pay half of it in the shop, then you are taken to a workshop where the gemstone is set into the crown.
The nice thing about it, you are allowed to watch the process and even take a few snapshots, which makes the experience really personal.
The next step is a trip to another workshop where the ring itself is polished and worked on to appear beautiful.
It is a fabulous experience, where you can chat with the person working on your ring and discover the process that is required to make the ring exceptionally-looking.
Note – this is a very international business, the dealer my friend bought from, spoke nine languages and people in workshops were from such places as Armenia, Israel, Pakistan.
After you are satisfied with the end product, you go back to the shop for the final transaction, and then enjoy your purchase!
But this was not the end….
While my friend was very happy with the purchase, she nevertheless went into some other shops to compare the prices… and to her astonishment and disappointment, some dealers were quoting a much lower price for this type of diamond, whereas others, to her relief, were charging a much higher price.
So, confused and unsure of her purchase, back she went to the dealer in Fashion Jewelry shop (twice), who very patiently answered all her objections and questions, giving very thorough explanations.
After coming back home, I did a bit more research on the prices and qualities of the gemstone and came to a conclusion that the dealer in Fashion Jewelry shop sold my friend a very nice piece for a reasonable price, compared to the UK market.
So if I ever decide to buy a piece of jewellery set with diamonds, I would definitely travel to Antwerp and visit Fashion Jewelry shop, since it seems to be a trustworthy and reputable place for making such a significant purchase.