Diamond Factories in Amsterdam

By Frank

Highly experienced diamond polisher who loves to share his knowledge with you. Continues to stun his colleagues with interesting - or simply bizarre - facts about diamonds and gems.

September 10, 2019

Amsterdam has a rich history, and the history of the diamond factories is no exception. As one of the worlds most renowned and historic diamond centers, Amsterdam has a fascinating history. Especially concerning its relationship with the diamond industry.

Where it all started

In the 18th century, Amsterdam was involved in an elaborate trade network with Portuguese merchants for diamond polishing. During this time, Amsterdam was able to embark on a monopoly of the newly discovered diamond mines in Brazil. The Dutch banking system was wise beyond its years. That is why the Netherlands was able to procure a solid footing in the diamond industry. In just a short time, Amsterdam acquired the largest amounts of diamonds imported from South America.

canals in Amsterdam

The City of Diamonds

Back then, Amsterdam was already famous as “The City of Diamonds” for more than 200 years. The city even survived a setback in the early 1800s when the Brazilian mines were depleted of diamonds. Thankfully, in 1867, the discovery of the Kimberly Mine in South Africa saved The City of Diamonds’ reputation. In the early 20th century, Amsterdam was home to over ten thousand active diamond polishers. However, by the 1920s, Antwerp, Belgium took over the majority of the diamond trade. This is in part due to the lower tax regime and labor costs in Belgium. As well, the labor unions were less aggressive than those in Amsterdam.

World War II

The German invasion of Holland at the start of World War II delivered the death blow to the fading Dutch diamond industry. The majority of the diamond workforce in Holland was Jewish. The Nazi’s put many of the Jewish workers in concentration camps. Other Jewish diamond polishers fled the country for safety. At the end of the war, the diamond industry was all but dead. However, many (Jewish) polishers came back and tried to rebuild the City of diamonds. But the pre-war glory days never truly returned.

old diamond polishing factory in amsterdam

The Diamond Industry in Amsterdam Today

With the fall of Amsterdam, Antwerp took over the title of the world’s diamond capital. What was once the world’s oldest diamond bourse is now but a shadow of its heyday. The headquarters are now located south of Old Amsterdam as diamond polishing is no longer the profession of choice in this beautiful and historic town.

The craftsmanship remains

Yet despite the sad history of the original “City of Diamonds,” Amsterdam still has the most beloved diamonds in the world. To this day, they open their doors to invite the public to learn about how these precious stones are processed. Royal Coster Diamonds is one of the diamond factories in Amsterdam that does this.

diamond polisher looking at rough diamond

The oldest diamond factory in Amsterdam

Founded in 1840 by Moses Coster, Royal Coster Diamonds is the oldest diamond polishing factory in Amsterdam – and the world. After Moses’ death in 1848, his son Martin took over his position as director. Abraham Eliazer Daniels, a renowned diamond cutter managed the company from 1850.

Coster’s diamonds outside of Amsterdam

After moving to Paris in the 1850s, Martin Coster gained a monopoly in diamond cutting in the French capital. Partly because of his special ties with Dutch King Willem III. However, the event that really changed the course of history for the company, took place in 1852. That year, Queen Victoria of Great Britain commissioned Coster to repolish the Koh-I-Noor, the main diamond in the British Crown Jewels. To this day, the Koh-I-Noor is still the center part of the Crown Jewels.

diamond loupe with loose brilliants

Royal diamonds from the diamond factory in Amsterdam

Repolishing the Koh-I-Noor sparked a rich and long history of visits by royalty from around the world. Visitors including Dutch Crown Prince Willem Alexander of Oranje-Nassau and Egyptian Princes Hussein Kamel and Tewfik Pasha. But also Empress Sisi, the Viceroy of China and King Rama V.

The diamond factory in Amsterdam that remained

Coster Diamonds was one of the many diamond factories in Amsterdam. However, just a few of them survived both the economic crisis of 1929 and World War II. Still thriving today, we try to keep the diamond heritage of the Amsterdam diamonds alive. In 2007, we opened the Diamond Museum Amsterdam. The Diamond Museum is one of the ways we try to share our knowledge with the people. You can browse through the museum to learn about the history of the Amsterdam diamond factories as well as the history of the City of Diamonds.

plaque from 1840 coster diamonds

Tours and Royal Coster Diamonds

Another way to keep the heritage of the diamond factories in Amsterdam alive is by so-called diamond tours. We offer tours and workshops so people can learn about the diamond legacy in a fun and informative way.

Free Guided Diamond Factory Tour

Explore the rich and mystical world of Royal Coster Diamonds in over 35 languages during a Free Guided Tour. Get a firsthand glimpse of the highly trained craftsmen and -women of Royal Coster. See how they cut and polish some of the most exquisite diamonds in the world. Take a close and personal look at the Koh-I-Noor diamond, the Royal 201 Patented Collection and many other famous diamonds!

guide explaining diamond tools

The Royal Experience

Looking for a more intimate experience with a royal treatment? On this tour you are personally guided through our facility while you learn first-hand about the diamond history of Amsterdam. Discover historic diamonds including the patented Royal 201, the story behind the Koh-I-Noor, and many others. You won’t leave empty-handed on this Royal Experience. You receive a goodie bag to remember your experience.

Book a diamond experience

These are the two most popular tours offered at Royal Coster Diamonds. But in our tours overview you find more tours and workshops. Book your (private) tour today, or to sign up for one of our diamond workshops. We guarantee an experience to remember to make your stay in Amsterdam complete!

Book a Royal Experience

Experience diamonds like Royals do. Since 1840, Royals from all over the world come to Amsterdam to see our impressive craftsmanship.

BOOK TOUR

Book a Free Tour

Learn more about the magical world of diamonds. Watch our craftsmen and -women polish rough stones into beautiful diamonds and learn more about these precious gems like the 4 C's of diamond valuation.

BOOK FREE GUIDED TOUR

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