Friday, 22 October 2010

Diamonds in Amsterdam



One of the coolest things we saw in Amsterdam was the workshop at Coster Diamonds.

This wasn't something on my "must see" list before we arrived - but then, I may have mentioned that I tend to have very short "must see" lists. I prefer to nosy around, relax, and play things by ear.

In any case, we were passing through Amsterdam's museum quarter when we saw a big sign advertising free entry to the workshop - and we already had a Netherlands Museum Card which would give us access to the Diamond Museum next door. An afternoon of sparkly fun beckoned.

Diamond polishing in Amsterdam

Coster Diamonds is a real, working diamond workshop. They're set up for tourists, of course, and apparently they do employ guides - but the guy who stopped his work to talk us through the process was a man in his seventies who'd been working in the diamond industry since he was apprenticed at 14. Incredible stuff. He showed us the different facets and angles, explained the order of cutting and grinding to make the classic "brilliant cut" shape, and gave us an overview of the different grades of diamonds (something I learnt a little bit about when we were shopping for my engagement ring). It was great fun to watch the diamond polishers at work - they must have great eyesight and fantastic co-ordination. I just know that if you let me near a grinding machine with a precious diamond... well, at least diamond particles are still useful for sandpaper!

After a good look around the workshop we went out through the shop (which starts with insanely expensive jewellery and finishes with tourist tat for a couple of Euros) and to the museum next door. If you don't have the museum card, I'd probably skip the museum, simply because the workshop is free, and was much more interesting (to me) thanks to its practical focus. But you'd be a bit crazy to visit the Netherlands and not buy a museum card, in which case, the museum's exhibit on famous diamond thefts is worth climbing a couple of flights of stairs for.

15 comments:

Emma said...

What a fabulous idea and not something I'd really think about doing!!

Louiz said...

I did something similar when I found myself in Amsterdam for a (very) cold and wet weekend once. It's absolutely fascinating

Bibliomama said...

Very cool. And I like your travel philosophy.

Melissa B. said...

Wow...what a day you had!

HalfCrazy said...

A diamond place huh, sounds cool and interesting. I wonder if they have really heavy security for robbers.

Debbie said...

How fascinating. Did they hand out free samples?

Kazzy said...

Ooooo, Netherlands AND museums? Sounds splendid. :)

cornflakegirl74 said...

I always think that the excitement of traveling lies in the hidden wonders you find when wandering the streets. I'm glad you were able to take in something like this while in Amsterdam. This is totally up my alley, too. And how neat that this dimond cutter has been working there for more than 50years!

MJ said...

Geology = diamonds love!

P.S. I may be around on the 31st, my parents are visiting next weekend but we don't know which day yet...

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

I did a report on the Netherlands in grade school. The only thing I remember is the diamonds! Glad I got at least one point right.

Alice Braga a.k.a. Alice Marie said...

I love that you keep your must-see lists short. So much more fun to stumble upon treasure!

Mademoiselle Poirot said...

I like your approach of not having a "to do" list, it's far more interesting to just see what happens and "go with the flow". Amsterdam is a great city for that and that diamond workshop sounds really interesting.

Have a great week, Love from London x

liliannattel said...

I wonder what changes that old man has seen. If he started at age 14, and he's in his 70's, he'd have started around 1950, when the effects of WWII would still have been visible and salient.

Judit Lingon said...

Coster? That name rings the bell. There are some islands here near called Koster. You should com ein the summer and check them out: if you heard about the great Swedish writer, Göran Tunström, it's a must - he had a house on South-Koster and spent the summers there with writing.

Donna said...

Such a great experience!

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