K Falls jeweler heads to Belgium on diamond quest

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K Falls jeweler heads to Belgium on diamond quest

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Ray Holliday, owner at Holliday Jewelry in Klamath Falls, examines a find in Antwerp, Belgium, the diamond capital of the world, during a group trip in 2017.

From left: Holliday Jewelry owner Ray Holliday and store manager Derek Porter often take two trips a year to Antwerp, Belgium, the diamond capital of the world, to find specific diamonds for customers.

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Here are several diamonds from Antwerp, Belgium, from a Holliday Jewelry diamond-buying trip in 2017.

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Antwerp, Belgium, has been considered the "diamond capital" of the world since the 15th century.

For 15 years, Ray Holliday, who owns Holliday Jewelry in Klamath Falls, has taken trips to buy diamonds halfway across the world.

Holliday and his store’s manager, Derek Porter, often visit Antwerp, Belgium, twice a year. The custom-made jewelry store’s latest trip â€" between April 13 and 19 â€" is organized through the Independent Jewelers Organization, a retail group based in Connecticut that has about 1,000 members worldwide.

As for Holliday Jewelry’s annual trips, one often happens in the spring while another comes closer to October. They usually have about 10 customers based out of the Klamath Falls area who m ake specific diamond purchase requests.

“That’s really neat â€" everybody’s working for that one call (buyer) just for somebody in Klamath Falls,” Porter said.

Porter is now on his first solo diamond excusion with nearly a dozen other store representatives across the nation. Two others also come from Oregon: One jeweler is from Astoria, while another hails from McMinville.

The ‘diamond capital’

Antwerp, a city of roughly 500,000, has been considered the “diamond capital” of the world since the 1400s. Holliday and Porter described the sights of their past trips, mentioning everything from classic cobblestone streets to entire avenues dedicated to diamond shops.

For his first solo trip, Porter said he is ready to rely on his expertise, instincts and knowledge of the diamond-buying process. He’s seeking a pair of heart-shaped diamonds for one of his customers.

“You never know what you’re going to find,” Porter said before leaving on his trip last week. “It’s pretty neat.”

Tight market controls

Preparation before and after the trip is somewhat unconventional: Each diamond they find must be shipped through special, secure couriers.

“The import and export of diamonds is very, very tightly controlled in Belgium,” Holliday said. “We’re not allowed to carry any loose diamonds into Belgium or out of Belgium.”

The diamond district itself does not allow cars past a certain point, with pedestrian traffic being most prominent in the area. During past trips, Porter and Holliday say they would visit several shops, searching for diamonds that best meet the descriptions of their customers.

This process often involves putting several diamonds on hold for a 24-hour period.

“You’re hiring us to be your diamond brokers â€" to go over and do it just for you,” Porter said. “This is what we do and we go halfway across the world to do it.”

Working with buyers

Prices, according to Holliday, could range anywhere between $500 to the hundreds of thousands depending on what people want or can afford.

Many times, Holliday and Porter have also taken in some of the diamond shops’ most prized possessions.

“Sometimes they’ll bring out their personal vaults and stuff like that,” Holliday said. Some of these diamonds could easily be worth $250,000 to $500,000.

Holliday and Porter said they’ll do everything they can to work with customers based on their needs and desires. If someone has closer to $500, the jewelers said they would still go above and beyond.

“We treat them with the same respect and give them the same energy as someone who wants a $20,000 diamond,” Holliday said. “That’s what’s going to be important to them. It’s fun for us and we get to make a lot of people happy.”

“Every diamond has a story and every piece of jewelry has a story, too” Holliday added.

Source: Google News Belgium | Netizen 24 Belgium

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