An­twerp Au­to­mates Di­a­mond Pol­ish­ing Process

Solitaire - - SPECTRUM -

The Sci­en­tific and Tech­no­log­i­cal Re­search Cen­ter for Di­a­monds (WTOCD) is the col­lec­tive re­search cen­tre of the An­twerp World Di­a­mond Cen­tre (AWDC), the um­brella or­gan­i­sa­tion for the An­twerp di­a­mond in­dus­try. The WTOCD has de­vel­oped FENIX, a revo­lu­tion­ary tech­nol­ogy that fully au­to­mates the di­a­mond pol­ish­ing process. This tech­nol­ogy fun­da­men­tally trans­forms that process, which has not changed since the 15th cen­tury.

In 1456, Lodewi­jck Van Ber­cken, a 15th-cen­tury jew­eller and di­a­mond cut­ter in An­twerp, dis­cov­ered that di­a­mond could be pol­ished with di­a­mond. Since then, all di­a­monds— re­gard­less how small—have largely been pol­ished by hand. This is a time-con­sum­ing and labour-in­ten­sive process, which has been em­ployed in An­twerp with de­clin­ing fre­quency due to the com­par­a­tively high wages paid to labour­ers.

Af­ter more than ten years of re­search, the WTOCD has suc­ceeded in de­vel­op­ing a tech­nol­ogy that fully au­to­mates the pol­ish­ing process. As a re­sult, di­a­mond can be pol­ished 10 to 20 times faster than by hand. Thanks to this tech­nol­ogy, a stone that would typ­i­cally con­sume an en­tire day can now be pol­ished in one-and-a-half hours.

Ari Ep­stein, CEO of the AWDC, said, “This dis­cov­ery fun­da­men­tally changes the di­a­mond pol­ish­ing process. To­day’s wages sim­ply make it too ex­pen­sive to con­duct this labour-in­ten­sive job in our coun­try. FENIX puts an end to this, and can there­fore be a real game-changer for the An­twerp di­a­mond in­dus­try.”

In ad­di­tion to be­ing fast, FENIX is also ex­tremely ac­cu­rate and revo­lu­tion­ary in the way it pol­ishes di­a­monds. Yves Ker­re­mans, CEO of the WTOCD, added, “Each di­a­mond has a spe­cific grain, a crys­tal ori­en­ta­tion that has to be taken into ac­count dur­ing the pol­ish­ing process. This grain is in part the rea­son that di­a­mond pol­ish­ing is such a labour-in­ten­sive process. FENIX is the first tech­nol­ogy that makes grain in­de­pen­dent pol­ish­ing pos­si­ble, and which fur­ther­more in­creases the speed of the pol­ish­ing process by a fac­tor of 10 to 20.”

FENIX is cur­rently un­der­go­ing thor­ough test­ing by An­twerp di­a­mond com­pa­nies. Start­ing in Septem­ber, the first ma­chines util­is­ing this tech­nol­ogy in­vented in An­twerp will be­come op­er­a­tional.

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