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New museum dedicated to diamonds

2018/5/8 9:43:54   source:China Plus

Antwerp's famous diamond district has a new gem.

The DIVA museum, which is dedicated to promoting the city's famous diamond trade, has now opened.

The Belgian port city of Antwerp has been the centre of the world diamond trade for more than 500 years.

Around 80 percent of the world's rough stones and 50 percent of cut stones come through the city.

To honor Antwerp's history with diamonds, a new museum named DIVA has been opened.

The museum showcases Antwerp's history with diamonds dating back to the 16th century.

It includes a series of historic items, as well as demonstrations and interactive displays.

Romy Cockx is a curator at the museum.

"Well they can see really old diamond jewelry from the 16th century where diamonds were not worked yet. So they are pointed diamonds. You can see how these cuts evolve throughout the centuries. You can see really well made jewellery from all over the world and really, showpieces," says Cockx.

Visitors to DIVA are given an interactive tutorial on how luxury items are crafted using both old and current methods.

Inside a vault, visitors are also taught how to tell fake stones and silver from the authentic items.

Curator Romy Cockx says their goal is to create an interactive experience.

"Putting them together gives us the opportunity to also show visitors the context of these objects and it makes the story more elaborate and it gives this story the DIVA touch, because every room has its own atmosphere and we really want to create a scenography and really give people this experience of luxury and beautiful objects and they can come here and dream with the objects," says Cockx.

Among the displays is an exotic diamond encrusted snake bracelet created 1860 in France, as well as diamond encrusted boots and a tiara fit for a princess.

While diamonds form naturally, new technology now allows for diamonds to be grown in a laboratory.

In a lab in London, a diamond can be cultured in just a matter of days.

Professor Oliver Williams with Cardiff University makes diamond sheeting for research into semi-conductors.

However, the same process can also be used to grow gems.

Purer than a natural stone, Williams says once the lab-grown stones are cut and polished, they have all the sparkle of a regular diamond.

"It's actually man beating nature. We're perfecting it and doing it better than nature. So for me there's an emotional thing to that to, because it's an enormous accomplishment to grow a material that traditionally has been very difficult to grow," says Williams.

A jeweler in London's Hatton Garden district has begun retailing lab grown diamonds alongside natural stones.

Around 10 percent of the stones being retailed by the jeweler are being grown in a lab.

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