A city full of diamonds

Diamond polishing and trade is one of Belgium's leading export sectors, accounting for more than 6% of exports.

But did you know that Antwerp was not the first diamond centre in Europe?

Furthermore, diamond polishing with diamond powder on a rotating disc is said to have been invented by the goldsmith Louis de Berquen, and the world's first engagement ring was created in Bruges for the marriage of Emperor Maximilian I and Mary of Burgundy in 1476.

The diamond trade since the 14th century

The diamond and gemstone market was located on the land that is now the Astrid Park, where the Franciscan Order's monastery used to be.

The nobles bought their diamonds at the market of Bruges, - the Count of Holland, according to documents found in the archives of the City of Bruges, had sent his valet S Rutkin to buy 3 diamonds in 1370.

The inventor of the diamond cut Louis de Berquen and the 'French connection'

The book by the Parisian goldsmith Robert de Berquen: "Merveilles des Indes orientales et occiden-tales ou Nouveau traité sur des pierres précieuses et perles" was published in Paris in 1669.

It tells the surprising story that the technique of cutting diamonds with one's own diamond powder was invented by one of his predecessors, the goldsmith Louis de Berquen from Bruges.

Louis de Berquen was first sent to Paris by his father to study literature at the university.

However, the young student did not take care of his studies and spent his time making technical inventions. His father was then obliged to ask him to return to Bruges, where, according to the book, he invented the technique of polishing diamond on a rotating disc with diamond powder.

Duke Charles the Bold had heard of Louis' invention, and had given Louis three large diamonds to polish. Tradition also has it that Louis also had to cut for Charles, a pale yellow diamond, the 137.27 carat Florentine, fancy cut (in double pink, with 126 facets on nine sides). Historians have not been able to find more formal proof of the existence of Louis de Berquen, but this will not change the virtue of the legend.

The first engagement ring in history and the luxury industry in Bruges

It is not by chance that the invention of diamond cutting took place in Bruges: Research in the city archives clearly shows the existence of an important jewellery and goldsmith's craft, fuelled by the needs of the court of the Dukes of Burgundy, the nobility and the clergy.

The Diamond Museum of Bruges and its diamond cutting demonstrations

Located in a historical manor house dating from 1518, 'The Beet Grain', which is right next to the Beguinage, the Bruges Diamond Museum has been in existence for several decades.

It is the only diamond museum in Belgium, and a pioneer in presenting the history of diamonds worldwide.

The daily diamond cutting demonstrations are not to be missed..


Tel +32 5 034 20 56

43, Katelijnestraat 8000