Ch. 6: The Cutters

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THE CUTTERS
211
are only eight hundred. South Africa has a thousand, the States sixteen hundred, and Israel, where there has been a con­certed effort among diamond men to build up the industry, there are two thousand. But what really caught my eye was the fact that Belgium has more than ten thousand, most of whom are in Antwerp. Ten thousand—the same figure quoted by Mr. Atkinson, I reflected, eighty-six years ago. It seemed to me that I would never find a place more imbued with the tradi­tions of the trade. So I went to Antwerp.
"You were right," said Mr. Romi Goldmuntz. "It is a very old trade in Antwerp. Look at him." He pointed to a bronze statue that stood on the window sill of the board room in the Diamond Club. It was of a man in a sort of Robin Hood cos­tume, with a jerkin and feathered hat, holding in his fingers a huge bronze diamond. Big as it was, he held it close to his eye. "That is Lodewyck van Bereken, the first diamond cutter in Antwerp," said Mr. Goldmuntz proudly.
I said, "How interesting. When did he live?" at which Mr. Goldmuntz looked stymied, and laughed a little.
"I must admit that I don't know, and furthermore I don't think anybody else does," he said. "He is a legendary figure, I suspect, but all cutters in Antwerp will tell you about him just the same."
I had found Mr. Goldmuntz in his office high up above a bank in the Rue des Fortifications, just off Pelikanstraat. It is a district almost exclusively given over to diamonds and dia­mond men. From Mr. Goldmuntz' office windows one can see the walls and windows of at least three of the five diamond clubs in Antwerp, and any number of diamond-cutting fac-
Ch. 6: The Cutters Page of 303 Ch. 6: The Cutters
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