The London Diamond Bourse first opened its doors in 1940. The necessity for London to open a trading floor came about mainly as a result of the occupation of Belgium in May 1940 by the Nazis.
At the time Antwerp was the main diamond trading hub of the World, and had for most of its long history been the home of several active trade organisations. Amongst the refugees who managed to reach this country were a number of diamond merchants. In some cases, they were able to bring their own stock with them. The fables go that the refugees managed to get their stock out by sewing the diamonds into the lining of their garments in order to smuggle their stock across the borders.
The London Diamond Bourse was not a lavish building in the heart of the City of London, in fact it’s first location was in Greville Street inside Mrs Cohen’s Cafe, near its junction with Hatton Garden. A Committee and President were elected and, notwithstanding the very cramped and primitive conditions, the organisation worked with remarkable success.
From 1945 onwards, there was an influx of members, some of whom were survivors of the Nazi occupation and concentration camps. As many of these had lost all their possessions and, in the cases of younger ones, missed their education, they started as diamond brokers with the help of those already established as merchant. By mid 1950s, the place was too cramped so the London Diamond Bourse moved to the ground floor of 57 Hatton Garden as a temporary home, a few years later moving into a newly erected building at 32 Hatton Garden, and with Barclays Bank on the ground floor, the London Diamond Bourse occupied the whole of the first floor.
For the first time the London Diamond Bourse had suitable offices, and in the years between 1960-1980 enjoyed prosperous trading. The membership grew to approximately 700. By the end of the 1980s, even these premises proved too small, so when a new large building was planned at 100 Hatton Garden, which would include space for many separate diamond offices, a move was approved.
Rapid changes worldwide within the Diamond Industry and various problems facing the UK Jewellery Trade during the 1980s, the diamond community found its numbers diminishing. London had two established trading organisations, so negotiations with the London Diamond Club were accordingly undertaken, which were to lead to the formation of the new united “London Diamond Bourse and Club”.
Today our membership is increasing. With the boom of social media in recent years, we have embraced this as a positive step towards assisting other facets of our industry. We are attracting members from all sides of the industry. No longer are members purely diamond traders, now we have members who are manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to mention but a few. We are still the only recognised industry trading floor in the UK.