Diamonds are forever
Touring the diamond and gem-cutting factories of Amsterdam
A tour group at the Coster Diamonds facility.The massive Amsterdam diamond-cutting factories of the 1950s and 1960s, when rough gems still poured in from Dutch mines in South Africa, are these days reduced to salesrooms with a few polishers working in the back or upstairs.
But gem-shaping is a Dutch craft that goes back to the 16th century, and tours of diamond-cutting shops and showrooms can still prove interesting—and what's more, are free. Just prepare yourself for the hard sell in the salesroom at the end.
Sure, it's touristy, but it can be fun—and frankly eye-popping to see so many precious gems just sort of lying around.
Queen Victoria's crown set with the Koh-i-Noor diamond. (Photo courtesy of Coster Diamonds)At Costers Diamonds (tel. +31-(0)20-305-5555, www.costerdiamonds.com), established in 1840 at Paulus Potterstraat 2-6 near the Rijksmuseum, you can hear how they polished the 186-carat Koh-i-Noor down to the 108.93-carat stone in the center of English Queen Victoria's crown (today part of the famosu Crown Jewels kept in the Tower of London). Open daily 9am to 5pm.
The Amsterdam Diamond Center (tel. +31-(0)20-624-5787; www.amsterdamdiamondcenter.nl), Rokin 1–5 off Dam Square, is the biggest jewelry store in the Netherlands, and lays claim to having worked the biggest rough diamond in history, 3,106 carats, into nine cut gems, including a 530-carat whopper called Cullinan I. Open daily 10am to 6pm.
The Amsterdam Diamond Center is now owned by Gassan Diamonds (tel. +31-(0)20-622-5333; www.gassandiamonds.com), which also maintains its own massive, historic brick factory built in 1879 at Nieuwe Uilenburgerstraat 173–175. Its assembly system was once steam powered. Canal Bus: Blue (to Gassan Diamonds). Tours daily 9am to 5pm.
- Take a tour: Book a tour that includes a visit to a diamond factory with a professional guide via our partners at Viator.com:
- Amsterdam Super Saver 1: Keukenhof Gardens Day Trip and Amsterdam City Tour
- Amsterdam City Sightseeing Tour
- I Amsterdam Card City Pass (25% off entry to the Diamond Museum)