I’m back from Belgium! We said farewell to my parents yesterday as they hopped a train to Paris, and we headed back to Amsterdam for a few days of relaxation. We had a blast visiting Antwerp, Ghent, and Brugge, and I have lots of pictures to share. But first, a little tour we took while in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is known for diamonds. Well, not by me, but by others who know more about those things. Though now that I’ve learned this fact, I can say, Amsterdam is known for diamonds. I’ve learned this by taking the completely free tour of Gassan Diamonds, whose factory is nestled right between my apartment and the nearest grocery store, but whose world of expensive sparkles is still far away from mine.

The tour is short and sweet, but it’s completely free (no pressure to buy a shiny stone, though you might think your ‘vintage’ costume jewelry a bit silly afterwards), and gives a fun look into the world of diamond polishing and selling.

I learned that in order to be a Master Diamond Polisher, you have to train and apprentice for 10 years first. It makes me wonder, how does someone decide to pursue that as a career? When does someone first say, “I’d like to polish diamonds for a living.” Also, why was that not around when I was looking for careers?

Our tour guide showed us into a room where she went over the Four C’s, then pulled out several different diamonds and showed us how the C’s affected the size, color, and (most importantly), cost. We got to test ourselves; I was pretty rubbish. Once it got over €45,000 for one diamond I felt a little light-headed. The above stone on our guide’s hand is the special “Gassan” cut, making it extra sparkly for a mere €23,000. Again, my fake-gold earrings were feeling pretty pathetic here.

According to the website, if you get a big group together to take a tour then at the end they give everyone a glass of champagne with a diamond hidden in one. Who wants to sign up for a tour with me?? Just don’t guzzle that bubbly too fast.

If you can squelch the urge to touch and own pretty, shiny things (I know, it’s hard for me too), then go visit the Gassan Diamond factory. Maybe treat yourself to a glass of champagne afterward. Go ahead and hide your own earrings in it–it’s cheaper.