Tag Archives: Belgium

Bruges: Disappointing diamonds

The Diamantmuseum, Bruges. Don’t. Do chocolate instead.

There are so many reasons for visiting Bruges: chocolate, cobbled streets, chilled beers in chilled bars, chocolate, beautiful buildings, chocolate, cool canals, sizzling street markets and chocolate.

Jewellery isn’t a reason for visiting Bruges. Save for a brief moment of glory in the diamond polishing world during its medieval heyday, Bruges lost out as the trade moved to Antwerp, then Amsterdam, before returning to Antwerp and staying there. After a brief resurgence of the diamond polishing industry in the early 20th century, Bruges slipped back into picturesque irrelevance as a centre of the jewellery trade.

That hasn’t stopped the proprietors of the Diamant Museum in Katelijnestraat 43 from opening daily, but it has given them the headache of what to fill the museum with. Its a problem they haven’t really solved. Consequently, the museum is distinguished by a proliferation of wall mounted information boards, with only a few of the topics covered having any substantial connection to Bruges.

For example, there’s a section on the Lesotho Promise diamond, a 603 carat stone purchased by Laurence Graff.¬† There’s an interesting computer simulation of the stone in its natural state that shows the challenges involved in cutting and polishing diamonds. But the diamond was finished in Antwerp, not Bruges. Similarly, there’s a small section on panning for gold in Brazil. All very interesting but again, no pretence of a connection between Brazil and Bruges.

Apparently, there are daily demonstrations of diamond polishing at the museum. However, thats at an additional charge to the admission fee. So, a hint from me to you: save your Euros for the chocolate. Bruges does that much better.