A few months ago, I received an email from Tiffany & Co. to take part in an exciting trip starting in Antwerp and ending in Mauritius to learn and discover the journey of a Tiffany diamond. It was eye opening to see first-hand their efforts of traceability in the sourcing of the stones to promote social and environmental responsibility!
Everyone knows of Tiffany & Co. but not as many know what goes on behind the scenes. When I arrived in Antwerp I was fascinated to learn the history of the city and the diamond culture that comes with it, including how and when Tiffany & Co. originally came to be there.
Click here to learn more about the story behind Tiffany & Co.
We spent 2 nights in Antwerp at the timeless looking Hotel De Witte Lelie, a boutique hotel with a beautiful courtyard which set the scene of Antwerp perfectly. We enjoyed our breakfast here each morning (pictured above)
The weather was perfect, which was apparently rare for that time of year so I guess we got lucky!
On day one we got straight into action and headed to the diamond district of Antwerp to learn and see the early processes of rough Tiffany diamonds. I’d never seen a rough diamond before, let alone touched one, so this was especially interesting for me! I was really surprised at how many steps there are in the early stages alone and how much attention to detail goes into every single diamond. There are so many different characteristics of a diamond which helps to evaluate the value, only the highest standard of diamonds which tick every box are kept as a Tiffany diamond. Using their many years of expert craftsmanship experience combined with their highest level of technology, they plan the pathway for each rough diamond which includes the different cuts and sizes they produce.
To split up the day we took a short walk to Graanmarkt 13 and spent some time in their boutique gift shop next door. After a bit of shopping we had lunch before heading back to the diamond facility. This time we got stuck right in and took part in some hands-on learning. We each sat down one on one with an artisan who explained the sorting process. This included checking the colouring, fluorescence & crystal stress. Once the diamonds had been sorted they are taken to the marking stage. We used microscopes and computer software to understand the process of marking where the stones will be initially sawn. Lastly, we visited the cutting room which is where the final step takes place.
I left the diamond facility feeling inspired and was looking forward to getting to Mauritius to learn about the final stages. I spent the rest of the day exploring Antwerp and indulging in the famous Belgium chocolate at every opportunity! Luckily, I saved a little bit of room for dinner because we were taken to an amazing restaurant called Het Pomphuis.
The next day we headed to Mauritius; to get there we had to take a train from Brussels to Paris airport and then an overnight flight from Paris directly to Mauritius! Upon arrival, we were surprised with a helicopter transfer to our hotel, The Shangri La. This was one of the highlights of the trip because I felt like I saw so much of the island from a unique perspective, and in just eight minutes (much better than an hour-long drive!)
We were greeted by the hotel staff and had champagne waiting on arrival before being taken to our beautiful ocean view rooms. During the afternoon, Tiffany & Co. had arranged for us to enjoy signature treatments at the spa, which was perfect after an overnight flight! After the spa, we got ready for dinner, which was a private BBQ beach set up surrounded by candles and flowers, a great end to an amazing day!
The following day we spent time on-board a catamaran sailing along the coast of Mauritius starting from the beach outside our room. We had a fresh seafood BBQ lunch cooked on-board and spent the whole day laying in the sun & swimming in the crystal-clear Mauritian waters. On our way back to the hotel we stopped to try parasailing, this was another new experience for me. It was especially special because we spotted an eagle ray swimming from up in the sky, an amazing sight to see indeed! Yet again Tiffany & Co. had arranged a perfect dinner at the Le Cafe des Arts. This restaurant is unreal! If you’re ever in Mauritius I highly recommend eating there but you need to book in advance. The owners, a friendly charismatic couple make it such an intimate and personal experience; it’s an art gallery as well as a restaurant, where you can purchase some of the local artwork.
Day 5 – unfortunately our final day in Mauritius with Tiffany & Co. We spent the morning at the Tiffany diamond facility where we discovered more about the Tiffany brand. This time, we learned even more about their sustainability efforts and The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, which supports non-profits in both coral conservation and responsible mining.
After lunch we were fortunate enough to take part in some hands-on experience. We all got the chance to polish a diamond. My initial thoughts were, you guys are trusting me to polish this precious stone? However, after coming to realise it takes a tremendous amount of time to polish a diamond so it would have been difficult for me to ruin it ha-ha. To finish off the journey we were able to see some of the finished diamonds under microscopes and learn about the different cuts, ranging from Princess to Round Brilliant.
Click here to learn more about their sustainability
What an eye opening experience it’s been travelling with Tiffany & Co. I feel very privileged and honoured to have been invited along and to be able to share what I learned on this special journey. I’ve experienced things that I’ll never forget and have a much greater level of respect for the brand Tiffany & Co.
Check out my short video below for visuals of the whole experience!