The Cape Town Diamond Museum and the Shimansky Diamond Experience at the V&A Waterfront is a must.
The song goes that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. No argument there, because I’ve never met a girl who doesn’t like something with a nice sheen to it. But then they work pretty well for guys too, particularly when they’re trying to impress said girls by introducing them to their new BFF.
Enter the Cape Town Diamond Musuem and the Shimansky Diamond Experience at the V&A Waterfront, which not only houses millions of Rand worth of diamonds, but also allows you to delve deeper into the history of the precious gem.
I am not a man heavily invested in bling, but I do enjoy a good story, and was recently taken on a tour of the experience by Kelly at Shimansky, who is not only passionate about the industry, but incredibly knowledgeable about all things diamond as well. Now, this particular story is over 3-billion years old and as you would expect South Africa, and the country’s history (good and bad), features heavily in the yarn.
The great thing about the experience is that it is not designed as a prolonged sales pitch. The staff are invested in what they do and they want people to explore the history and the trade in the modern era, not just pick up something shiny at the end of it. It has interactive elements, which means kids can get involved, particularly with the recreation of an early mine shaft that allows them to dress up in old mining gear and play prospector, all while their folks explore the glittering display and historical elements of the experience.
In total, the tour usually takes around 45-minutes and costs just R50 and is open seven days a week from 9am to 9pm. It includes history on the diamond rush in SA, featuring well-known figures such as Barney Barnato and Cecil John Rhodes and lesser-known like the 15-year-old Erasmus Jacobs who unknowingly would begin the story of diamonds in the country in 1867, as well as the history of some of the more famous ‘rocks’ uncovered in the country’s soil, including the Cullinan Diamond, which was sliced and diced and scattered abroad.
Shimansky’s internationally patented diamond cuts – MY GIRL, BRILLIANT 10 and EIGHT HEARTS – are also on display while visitors are given a first-hand view of the journey from rough diamond to one of many of founder and CEO Yair Shimansky’s incredible creations in the Shimansky Diamond Cutting and Polishing Workshop. Visitors are then given a backstage pass into exactly what goes into creating final product as they watch master diamond cutters at work in the Diamond Cutting and Polishing Factory.
Finally, the doors open onto the showroom, which at any given time is home to a massive amount of diamonds and tanzanite and with single pieces being valued at up to R4-million-plus, I could only guess the net value of the room. Security is tight. And for good reason.
Guests can relax with a glass of wine or a cup of coffee as they browse Shimansky’s exclusive designer diamond and Tanzanite jewellery collection with consultants to help you in choosing a new BFF if you so desire.
Get free entry to the Cape Town Diamond Museum with a City Pass.