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Antwerp Diamond Purchases


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I will be in Antwerp in October or November. I do have some experience in recognizing decent stones but have never travelled out of country to buy them. Where do I start in finding an appropriate seller in Antwerp to buy a small quantity of diamonds from? I am an individual, not a wholeseller or retailer

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If you Google "where to buy diamonds in antwerp", you'll see a link for tripadvisor.com.  There are 67 specific, recent comments there, things like "avoid the shops by the train station", and "NEVER spend money at Orsini".


However, these are mostly all general-populace comments, and few people think to suggest you go in with GIA and AGSL grading reports foremost in your mind.  Which is what you actually have to do.


Note that over there, HRD and IGI are the more prevalent (popular) standard-setting bodies for diamond ratings.  I understand HRD is close to GIA; IGI is close to EGL in this country.  If you're not familiar with either, you may want to consider only dealing with GIA and AGSL stones.  Even if you will accept HRD, make sure you understand their system well enough to know when you're getting legitimate documentation.


As I recall, Antwerp has a 21% VAT which is probably refundable to you through an airport/exit procedure.  The paperwork is always a fuss, but that refund is your real savings from shopping there.


Incidentally, AmEx recently announced they're eliminating foreigh transaction fees (like Chase and HSBC), so it might be worth your time to set things up ahead of time with your credit card provider in lieu of carrying cash.  Understand the consumer protections they give you for foreign vs domestic purchases.  It's fun to negotiate pure cash deals, but not after you've read a few of the tripadvisor horror stories.  (Also, few people are using travelers checks these days.)

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I'd start by questioning whether you want to buy "a small quantity" of diamonds in Antwerp at all.


The market for retail diamonds is a global one - unless you are (or fall) in love with a specific item (stone or piece of jewellery), there is no reason to shop in Antwerp rather than anywhere else. If anything, somewhere else may well be cheaper: Antwerp isn't a cheap place. In addition to the wholesale cost of the goods (roughly constant anywhere in the world), you have to cover rent (high, particularly in tourist spots like Antwerp's diamond district), labour (also high, because of social charges), local taxes apart from VAT (among the highest in Europe).


Although you can get VAT back by exporting the items, there are a couple of complications:


1. Most shops use VAT refund agencies to deal with the bureaucracy. The agencies aren't charities, and will chomp an often significant part of the refund, plus they take their time; it's unlikely that any refund will reach you before the credit card company wants all of the VAT (and the diamonds) paid back.


2. For the "export" to happen, you have to leave the EU, not just Belgium, and the forms must be processed at the point of leaving it. If you are on a tour of Europe, things can get awfully complicated (trying to get Belgian agency papers stamped in Spain, for example, is a distinct pain in the neck, as is posting them back with a Belgian postage-paid envelope).


All in all - once you have seen what you want to see in Antwerp, and there is a fair amount to see, rather than spending time shopping for diamonds, I'd take a train to Ghent/Gand (40 minutes) and/or Brugge/Bruges (1 hour), and enjoy the visit to either of those two art and culture gems.


One question, if I may: you said "a small quantity of diamonds", rather than "one diamond". What do you have in mind? Several small stones?  Melée? Regardless of where you buy, there are plenty of traps for the unwary when buying multiple ungraded diamonds. Be careful.

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Davide said most of what I have to say.  The question really boils down to why you want to do this.  Antwerp is a cool place  and the historical connection with diamonds make them a good place to get a souvenir of a visit but, beyond that, there’s not much to be gained and a lot to be lost by shopping there.

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