by Diao Ze， Gan Chun
BRUSSELS， July 17 (Xinhua) -- From engagement rings to extravagant jewelry，
the Diamond District in the northern Belgian city of Antwerp is a top
destination for diamond shopping in Europe.
Rome wasn't built in one day. What makes Antwerp the city of diamonds? Due to
its tradition of craftsmanship， the city is acknowledged throughout the world as
the trademark for diamond excellence.
"Nowadays people are buying things from wholesale.. We still make everything
handmade，" Mike Rombout， owner of Rudiam handmade Jewels company， told Xinhua.
Rombout inherited the company from his father， and the company represents two
generations of jeweller-diamond dealers and has been at the heart of the Antwerp
diamond center for more than 35 years.
The philosophy of the company is simple -- personal approach and everything
has to be handmade， of supreme quality and tailored to the clients' needs，
He said that from drawing to ring-making， everything starts with the metal.
"We make what the customers have asked for. We make drawing together with the
customer， we choose the stone and discuss about the budget，" he said.
At Rombout's boutique， clients can choose the model they like from the
existing collections， which they can adjust according to their needs， or they
can come by with the idea they already have.
However， the sharp competition on the diamond market is also putting pressure
on companies who remained true to its values and purely handmade work. Some
enterprises introduced machines to their production， so they are able to produce
higher quantity for cheaper prices.
Rombout said in difficult times he would prefer to shut down the company
other than start cheating on material or the way of production to stay afloat.
The Rombouts' business is one of 2，300 companies operating in the diamond
Some 80 percent of diamond trade in the world is through Antwerp. The city is
also the only city to have four diamond exchanges out of 30 in the world， and is
the place for 84 percent of the global trade in rough diamonds and 50 percent of
the trade in polished diamonds.
The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) officially represents and coordinates
the Antwerp diamond sector. It streamline the vast import and export flow of
diamonds in and out of Antwerp.
"A diamond is always determined by its four C's， four characteristics. First
you have the weight， one carat is 0.2 grams， then you have the color， the
clarity and the cut. For the cut you have different shapes， but you also look at
how well the polisher did his job，" Barbara Descheemaecker， from the Antwerp
World diamond Centre (AWDC)， told Xinhua.
To achieve the final shape， diamond has to go from rough stone through
polishing process. The designers and professional diamond cutters measure what
form certain stones can be given.
Peter Bombeke， a third generation diamond cutter， has recently introduced the
"dragon cut"， which， based on Chinese lucky number eight， brings about sixty
four facades for a diamond.
"The actual cut took me a couple of months... It is very shiny， more shiny
than a brilliant. Because you have those facades， with more and extra detail，
you get the shift in the light return， making it look much whiter that it really
is，" Bombeke told Xinhua.
Despite challenges from modern technology and machinery， the traditional
craftmanship of processing diamonds in Antwerp is still among the most
prestigious and advanced in the world. As long as people still see diamonds as a
symbol of love or a way to demonstrate wealth， the city of diamonds will
continue to shine.
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