At Mark Michael Diamond Designs we design and manufacture custom jewelry, engagement rings and bridal jewelry in-house. We feature jewelry questions, diamond information and answers in our jewelry blog.

How I Choose Diamonds in Antwerp, Belgium

Each fall and spring Mark travels to Antwerp, Belgium to hand-select diamonds for his store and customers. Antwerp, Belgium is referred to as the diamond cutting capital of the world where more than 80% of all rough diamonds pass through for cutting. This huge inventory gives Mark access to both unbelievable diamond selection and pricing. Mark has been in the jewelry industry for over 30 years and below he shares his expertise on what he looks for when selecting a diamond in Antwerp, Belgium.

First off, how does the Antwerp, Belgium diamond-buying process work?

When I’m in Antwerp I have access to five major diamond houses.  If I have a very special or particular request I will often call each diamond house before I leave to tell them exactly what I’m looking for. This way when I arrive, they have a selection waiting for me and I can compare their diamonds against the diamonds from the other major diamond houses. This means I am able to select the most beautiful diamond while also negotiating on price.

What is the number one thing you look for when selecting a diamond for a customer?

When selecting diamonds I always concentrate first on color and cut. These are the two areas that most affect how a diamond is perceived by the naked eye. White and bright is good.


GIA Color Grading Scale.jpg

Color is listed on all GIA grading reports and is represented by a letter grading that falls within a D-Z range. I tend to stick with diamonds graded in the D-F (colorless range) and G-I (near colorless range) when choosing diamonds for my customers.  Cutting can also affect the perceived color of a diamond so I consider this in conjunction with the color grading. The better the cutting, the whiter the diamond will appear to your eye. Thirdly, a diamond’s perceived color can also be affected by the internal characteristics. This is especially true of diamonds with black internal characteristics. They can make the diamond appear darker overall. I take all of these into account and select the whitest, brightest diamond that falls within the customer’s price range.


GIA Cut Grading Scale.jpg

Each GIA graded diamond is evaluated on its Proportion, Symmetry, and Polish and then given one of five cutting grades: Excellent, Very good, Good, Fair, and Poor for each cutting area. 

Whenever possible and budget allows I look for excellent cutting in all three areas. These are diamonds that we in the industry call “Triple X diamonds” and are considered most desirable. However I still compare the diamonds that I’ve narrowed down for each customer closely and side by side. There are over a 100 combinations that GIA acknowledges as excellent in the proportion grade alone, before even looking at the symmetry and polish. Granted these variations are small, but will still affect the brilliance and fire dispersion that the eye perceives. For each diamond I am foremost concerned with table width, depth, and girdle thickness. If I approve of those I then consider the crown and pavilion angles.

Do you consider a diamond’s clarity at all when selecting a diamond?

GIA Clarity Grading Scale.png

Yes, the vast majority of the diamonds I buy fall within the VS1, VS2, SI1 or SI2 clarity range. The reason for this is that within these clarity grades you won’t perceive anything with the naked eye but aren’t so highly graded to be overly expensive.

What I immediately eliminate is: Black inclusions that affect the body color of the diamond, surface breaking inclusions (that make the diamond vulnerable to breaking), and mirroring inclusions (inclusions that reflect internally to be seen in multiple spots simultaneously).

Diamond hunting sounds like a lot of work! How do you communicate all this information to your customers?

As you can imagine over my week of diamond hunting I look at many, many diamonds. I take the client with an $800 budget just as seriously as the one with a $100,000 budget. After I have chosen my top 1-3 diamond options for each customer and negotiated the best prices possible I call the client with my recommendations. I’ll spend several minutes on the phone discussing the different options. I can also send grading reports as well as a video of each diamond I’m looking at. Then it’s up to the client to say yes or no.

If you’d like to have Mark purchase you a gorgeous diamond from Antwerp, Belgium come in or contact us to talk about your budget, shape and size. If you have any other questions or would like additional information about Mark’s Antwerp diamond buying trip send us an email here. We’re always happy to hear from our customers.



Mark Lauer