After my bus tour around Brussels today morning I took another bus tour to Antwerp, some 50 kilometers north of Brussels. Besides being an important port in Europe Antwerp is also known for being the diamond capital of the world. 70% of all diamonds in the world come from Antwerp. The bus took us to one of the diamond companies in Antwerp called Diamond Land where we were shown how diamonds are cut and polished.
Here is a picture explaining the process (counter-clockwise) of taking a rough diamond (an octahedron), cutting it and polishing it.
And here is a picture of a person cutting and polishing diamonds. Its a painstaking and slow process, which requires fixing the stone to a contraption and then pressing it against a grinding disc which rotates at a high speed.
The person has to observe the stone using a magnifying glass, then adjust screws on the contraption in order to turn and twist it to the desired orientation. He then presses the stone on rotating disc with the right amount of pressure. This happens over and over again, many times for each facet of the diamond. No wonder the bloody things cost so much. That is apart from the fact that they are so hard to find in the first place.
We were also taken for a walk around the old part of town.
Antwerp is littered with many beautiful ancient buildings and a few modern day monstrosities.
The most beautiful and breathtaking structure is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Antwerp seen here in the background.
The structure is so tall I had to struggle to get it all in one frame.
This is the main entrance which is closed permanently. Entry is gained through a smaller door at the side.
The inside is just as grand.
Take a look at this carved pulpit. I must have stood there staring at it for a good ten minutes.