New Dutch King Feted With Orange Diamonds

May 6th, 2013 by Noam Flint

It’s not every day that the Netherlands gets a new monarch – the last coronation occurred 33 years ago. And the ascendancy of a male monarch is even rarer – the last time the Netherlands was ruled by a king, it was still the 19th century! So when Willem-Alexander replaced his mother Queen Beatrix in a ceremony last week, you knew that it would be a diamond extravaganza.

Today, Belgium is considered to be the nexus of Europe’s diamond trade, and it has been so for some time. But between three hundred and four hundred years ago, the capital of the continent’s diamond industry was its neighbor to the North, the Dutch Republic. Although Antwerp returned to prominence as the port city of choice for northwestern Europe, Amsterdam continued to boast of a thriving diamond industry. About a century ago, it employed two thousand workers, and of these, Jewish people made up approximately half of the laborers and ninety percent of the diamond cutters and polishers. Amsterdam is still colloquially referred to as the ‘Diamond City’ and it even has a particular cut named after it, the Amsterdam Cut.

A century and a half ago, the Asscher family, developers of the Asscher Cut Diamonds, established its diamond cutting business in the city and has since gone on to cut some of the world’s most famous diamonds, including the Exelsior and the Cullinan. In the final year of her rule, Holland’s Queen Juliana bequeathed upon the company a majestic title, in recognition of its body of work. So when the Netherlands ordained a new ruler last week, the Royal Asscher Diamond Company returned the favor by launching a special and beautiful jewelry collection containing orange diamonds. The set includes three white and orange diamond rings, forged out of either silver or gold, and set with orange sapphires – starting price $2,575. The choice of the color orange, exceedingly rare for colored diamonds, is a nod to the family’s official color and the title Willem-Alexander held before becoming king: the Prince of Orange.

On the day of the coronation, Amsterdam’s population doubled to over a million and a half people, as guests packed the city to get a look at the new monarch and his wife, the Queen Maxima, who left them star-struck with her regal platinum tiara, containing no fewer than 655 diamonds. But with all of the pomp and circumstance, Willem-Alexander publicly expressed his humility, saying that under his rule, Dutch people won’t have to call him “your majesty” – unless they want to.