A glimpse of Cape Town Diamond Museum

2013-06-28 13:57
Did you know there was a diamond museum at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town? Neither did I. Curiosity drove me to check it out and I've discovered the history behind these valuable stones. Here's what I found...

The museum is housed at the Clock Tower precinct and pays tribute to the world’s oldest precious stone, the diamond, initially formed more than three billion years ago. Frequented mostly by foreigners, I'd advise locals to make the effort to check it out as it takes you on a sparkling journey.

Take for instance the following little diamond facts in the rough:

- The first diamond discovery in South Africa happened between December and February 1867 when a 15-year-old Erasmus Jacobs found a translucent stone along the bank of Orange River on his father’s farm

- Kimberley, the town in the Northern Cape, was at the centre of South Africa's diamond boom.

- The discovery of this stone sparked the ‘diamond rush’ earning South Africa the title as the largest producer of these stones.

A powerhouse of history and knowledge (Phumzile Ngcatshe)

Back to the touring experience though. You'll be given a first-hand lesson on the art of cutting and the polishing.

And the riddle of how it came to be that men promised their faithfulness with a shiny little rock? Turns out us males have a certain Archduke Maximilian of Austria to thank.  The first well-documented use of a diamond ring was used by him in the imperial court of Vienna in 1477, to pledge his betrothal to one Mary of Burgundy. Needless to say, the trend remains the world over.

Diamond workers (Cape Town Diamond Museum)

Visiting the museum allows you to experience the importance of the diamond industry as well as the evolution of the mining process considering there were no machines back then and that everything was done manually. Hard work hey?

I am told that the diamond mine was so deep it can be compared to Table Mountain turned upside down.

I’ve never seen a diamond being cut, polished and designed. At the back of the museum is a well known jewellery store, Shimansky. I must say it’s a rare opportunity to visit their workshop, witnessing how they transform the diamond from a rock to a finely cut jewel perfectly made for you.

As my visit was on a rainy day, a tour would not be complete without a warm cup of cappuccino offered to visitors and take my word, it's just what you need to finish off you museum visit. If you go, you'll learn about an integral part of our culture and heritage.

De Beers offices in 1898, Kimberley (Cape Town Museum)

It's so annoying when visitors or tourists learn more about our country than we do. Stop going to the waterfront for shopping only people, it really does have an enlightening aspect to it as well. It just depends on how hungry you are?

Check it out - the Cape Town Diamond Museum for more information and visiting times.
Read more on:    weekend escapes  |  travel south africa  |  lifestyle

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