Antwerp Archives Reveal Diamond Trade Dating Back to 1447

World News
30/01/2017 23:17

Last week, on the occasion of the "Diamond Year" that the City of Antwerp will celebrate from September 2017 through May 2018, the City of Antwerp dug deep into its "Insolvente Boedels" archive, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage resource, to reveal documents dating the diamond trade in Antwerp back to 1447 - or 570 years ago. The 'crown jewel' of the documents revealed is an edict dating from 1447 in which the 'College of Mayor and Aldermen' decree that, "No one may trade in fake diamonds." The College was well ahead of its time. Consumer confidence was apparently alive, well and necessary back in 1447.

The 2017 iteration of Antwerp's alderman for the diamond trade, Ludo Van Campenhout, said that, "Antwerp and diamonds have been linked to one another for at least 570 years. These days, what New York is to the financial market, Antwerp is to diamond market." According to the City of Antwerp, the first mention of a diamond cutter in Antwerp dates from 1483. After an appeal to the authorities and many years in waiting, the profession of diamond cutter was recognized in 1582. 

For those proficient in old Dutch, the edict reads:

Valsch gesteente (Fake stones)
Item dat nyemant bynnen der stad van Antwerpen en sal coepen, vercopen te pande setten oft voert doen enichrande valsche gesteente gecontrefeyt na sijn steene geset in goud, in silvere vergult oft in lattoen vergult, het zij dat ghecontrefeyt is na diamante robynen balleys ameraude saphyre oft hoe danich dat gecontrefeyt oft gevalscht ist op peyne van xxv Ryders deen derdendeel daeraff den here dander derdendeel de stad ende tderde derdendeel den ghene diet voertbrachte Ende daertoe tgoet verbuert tsheren behoevf.