“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” – Confucius

Back to Antwerp

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While the Gemmology Institute of America (GIA) is resorting to every available marketing and communication channel to reach its target group, the Antwerp-based HRD Institute of Gemmology is far more quiet. Nowadays there seems to be a shift. One of the signs of this change is the HRD Graduate Event which was held on 22 October. The organizers prepared a spectacular line-up for the event. The main theme of the mini symposium was Art Deco, but there were also presentations specifically for diamond experts too.

There was a good turn-out and the audience could hear interesting people give even more interesting talks, which I’ll briefly summarize below. And because rest is always sweeter after work, please allow me to give you some pointers to the city of Antwerp for when you are next there as the city also has some culinary treats in store for visitors.

HRD Graduates Club Event

The HRD Graduates Club Event is primarily a professional event for the graduates of HRD who receive their certificates. This year the event was held at the Eugène Gife Hall – a ceremonial hall in one of the EU’s information centres. Katrien De Corte, the Head of Education and Graduates Club, greeted the audience consisting mainly of HRD alumni members, and outlined the line-up of events.

Joanna Hardy (Historic and Contemporary Jewellery Lecturer, Jewellery Advisor) and Marguerite de Cerval (Jewellery Historian, Ecole du Louvre) gave talks about the history of jewellery. Joanna not only has a wide range of experience of over 30 years behind her, but is a very entertaining lecturer too. She shared many interesting stories with the audience while studying the beautiful Art Deco pieces from her experiences gained at the BBC Antiques Road Show and at Sotheby’s auctions. Marguerite’s main area of expertise is jewellery from the 20th century. This summer for example she participated at the “Important Jewellery & Vintage Timepieces” auction of exceptional pieces at the Hermitage Hotel in Monte Carlo as a consultant of Artcurial.

Being a diamond organization, naturally the HRD had something dedicated to diamonds too. HRD Antwerp research scientist Bert Williams’ talk about synthetic diamonds and the methods of identification visibly captivated the audience. You can read more about the lecture here.

The next two presentations focused on the jewellery trade and the changing trends and consumer habits. First, Seyran Kurtuluş (Social Education Dept. Manager at HRD Antwerp), who formerly worked at Young & Rubicam and Leo Burnett discussed useful tricks in the sale of jewellery and luxury products in a lively lecture. She talked about the best ways of approaching a customer, what moves the market, what motivates purchases and how we can establish long-term relations with our customers. In the afternoon, Jamie Anderson, one of the strategic management professors at the Antwerp Management School guided us in his nonetheless eventful talk into the latest marketing trends and tools, through the story and example of Lady Gaga, one of the icons of our age.

I think I can safely say that this seminar was beyond my expectations. Informative, diverse and creative presentations followed one after the other, and in addition lent a perfect networking opportunity for the members of the HRD Graduate Club, the teachers, students, and those interested in these topics. I sincerely hope that these events will continue in the future at an equally high standard!

The flavours of Antwerp: flawless

Antwerp is worth visiting not only for the events relating to the diamond trade

According to the Belgians, (and not only the Belgians) Antwerp is a different world, and being”Antwerpener” is a state of mind. Antwerp is a city with medieval streets, Renaissance buildings, a huge port, diamond district, remarkable museums, and a thriving design scene and night life. Some time ago I spent a few weeks in the city, and found it very liveable and pleasant, and one can always find small treasures to uncover there.

The people of Antwerp are proud of the heritage of the Duke of Burgundy, Phillip the Good (1419–1467), whose extravagant court was not only known for its splendour and luxury products but for its culinary delights too. Even nowadays Antwerp offers exceptional things for the fans of culinary pleasures, and authentic and high standard international cuisine is abundant in the city. The city can proudly showcase several Michelin-star restaurants too, seven of which already have two stars.

Strolling in the city centre we can find numerous interesting places, if you like the Art Nouveau style, it is worth heading to the Horta Grand Cafe for a leisurely brunch. Through the great glass windows of the boat-shaped Zuideterras by the river Scheldt we can take in the beautiful views while enjoying a seafood lunch. On a small street close to the Cathedral of Our Lady, Sir Anthony Van Dijck’s restaurant offers first-class Belgian dishes in the rustic setting of a 16th century building.

If you are truly serious about your passion for chocolate, you should not miss Pierre Marcolini’s tea salon next to the Bourlaschouwburg theatre! The “master” has pralines, truffles, macaroons, jams and other delicacies in store for the sweet-toothed. It’s not to be missed!

If you are interested in diamond identification, please see the second part of my article here.