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Amsterdam is a major historical location for the diamond industry. Walking down the streets you will see a lot of jewelry stores as well as many diamond businesses with prominent security systems and signs reading "guided diamond tours".
If you go on these tours you'll see some breathtaking diamonds, as well a chance to see these stones being cut and polished. And if you have some cash to spare, purchase one for $4000 to $400,000.
Amsterdam has an extended history relating to diamonds, and has been a major diamond center since Sephardic Jews introduced the diamond cutting industry to Amsterdam in the later 16th century. Nowadays there are about a dozen diamond cutting facilities in the city, 5 of which offer guided tours. The tours are free and are usually conducted 9am to 5pm each day.
Amsterdam has an extended heritage in the diamond business, and has been a major European diamond center since Sephardic Jews introduced the diamond cutting industry in the later 16th century. Ultra-Orthodox Jews are still prominent in worldwide diamond marketing and distribution, and urban legend has it they hide diamonds in their beards to move them through customs without being detected. Diamonds are not necessarily cheaper in Amsterdam; however prices are fairly competitive. At least you will have seen the stones being worked, and when you purchase from a factory you get an extensive description of the diamond you acquire so you know exactly what you are buying.
The following renowned diamond stores offer diamond-cutting and polishing tours, and sales of the finished diamonds:
Van Moppes Diamonds, which was the the 1st company to offer guided tours.
Be sure to sample authentic Dutch food at the numerous cafes. If you have a chance eat a "brodje haring" (an open-faced sandwich with salted herring) or try other seafood specialties from the cuisine of this seafaring nation.
The best time to visit Holland is spring or fall when the heat of summer and the droves of tourists have departed and the leaves on the trees aren't blocking the review of the monumental facades. The winters are penetratingly cold and wet with lots of rain and sleet. Because of the high humidity, it actually feels as cold as the thirty-below winters common in Canada. Come in spring (March through May) and catch the Holland Flower Festival at Keukenhof.
If you're over 40, make sure you pack a pair of reading/magnifying glasses: museums tend to utilise microscopic lettertypes for their descriptive plaques.
Just here are a select few of Amsterdam's major attractions:
Anne Frank Home (Anne Frank Huis)
If you love boats, KNSM Island with its shipping history is the place for you. Every five years this harbor area of Amsterdam hosts the Sail event. Every new edition attracts even more visitors (Sail 2000 welcomed two and a half million people). Every edition also offers even more Tall Ships and even more cultural activities in the area.
The Van Gogh Museum contains the largest collection of works by Vincent Van Gogh, the tragic artist who cut off his ear and committed suicide. You will find more than 200 incredible works from the Masterís hand, as well as 500 drawings and 700 written documents. Together these provide a historic insight into his life and art.
Amsterdam is a fascinating place with lots of things to see and do besides diamonds and diamond businesses. After one visit I'm sure you'll be so fascinated you will be determined to come back.
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