Antwerp, the first world’s bourse.


If someone tells you that the history of the first securities and commodities exchange in the world passes through the legendary Venetian traveler Marco Polo, who lived between the 13th and 14th century? The world's first stock exchange was founded in Antwerp, Belgium in 1460 when they began to buy and sell goods from Venice, as Marco Polo discovered the incredible treasure of culture and precious stones that the Far East was hiding. Some historians think that the word Bourse derives from the name of Venetian merchants family Della Borsa and it has been traslated into Flemish Van der Bourse to hide italian origin.

Bruges was the first city where, at least since 1314, was developed the art of precious stones cut, after the documented arrival of the first shipment from Venice and where - for the first time - a diamond was polished by using another diamond, taking the Indian primacy in diamond cutting. The art of precious stones cut found in Flanders its definitive consecration in Antwerp, thanks to the favorable location of its port since at least 1447, when a prefect of the city issued an edict against the use of simulant stones. The city in 1582 saw the rise of the first documented cutters association.

The golden age of Antwerp was stopped in 1585 when Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza, conquered the city and forced the stone cutters - almost all Protestants - to move to Amsterdam. An edict and a new bridge closed Antwerp until 1863, promoting the development of diamonds cutting in Amsterdam, originating the distinction between styles cut known as "antwerp cut" and "amsterdam cut". A distinction that has no more meaning.

The diamond rush in South Africa in the 19th century, gave new shine in Antwerp as center of high-quality cutting style recovering techniques and traditions remained forgotten for hundreds of years. In 1893 the new association of traders and cutters named "Diamond Club van Antwerpen" bought - as a place for their trade - an entire building in the street in front the train station, laying the first stone for the foundation of the most important district in the world for diamond trade. In 1904 a group of diamond cutters created the second exchange "Beurs voor Diamanthandel" (which I am a member), in 1929 was founded the third bourse "Vrije Diamanthandel" that included the rough exchange "Antwerpsche Diamantkring" at the number 2 of Hoveniers Straat (where we have our offices). Today the trading-halls of these exchanges, where diamonds were bought and sold, are open but not really operationals. They have been replaced, with the exception of rough exchange, from the efficient online platforms.



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