Foretaste of the new-look collection 'DIVA, a Brilliant Story'
New room and new additions to the jewellery collection
To celebrate 575 years of diamonds in Antwerp, DIVA, the museum for diamonds, jewellery and silver, has given its permanent collection a whole new look. A festive weekend will mark the reopening of DIVA to the public on 9 December 2022. By way of a sneak preview of the new presentation, here DIVA lifts the veil on several magnificent additions to the collection.
At the beginning of 2022, DIVA closed to allow renovation work to be carried out on the façade and roof. The museum has used that time to make changes to and expand its permanent collection, DIVA, a Brilliant Story.
In the latest presentation of the collection DIVA tells her story through from raw material to object. Visitors go on the same journey as the raw materials, starting in the new room devoted to mining. They meet the experts, the dealers, the designers and the makers and eventually the people who wear the jewellery or use the silverware. Visitors also get to see the new acquisitions recently added to the collection.
Antwerp, the diamond capital of the world
Diamonds and Antwerp have been inextricably linked for 575 years. And of course for most of that history diamonds have also been very much part of the world of precious stone and metal workers. During its flourishing period (Golden Age of Flanders) and long after that, Antwerp was an international centre for silversmithing, renowned for its fine craftsmanship and creativity. Antwerp’s social and historical evolution is the thread from which objects from the museum’s collection are hung.
DIVA and her collection occupy an iconic place right in the heart of historical Antwerp. From the sixteenth century, the Grote Markt and the surrounding streets were the go-to destination for those looking for objects made of gold, silver or precious stones. The River Scheldt was invaluable to merchants and explorers transporting precious stones and metals to Europe.
Orchidée ailée pendant, Philippe Wolfers, 1902
In 2021 the museum acquired an extraordinary gold pendant with chain by the Brussels silversmith Philippe Wolfers. The pendant representing the metamorphosis of a woman into a winged orchid or harlequin can be transformed into a corsage jewel. It is finished with plique-à-jour enamel, a pearl, rubies and brilliant-cut diamonds. What makes the jewel particularly special is the combination of translucent enamel and precious stones.
This distinctive pendant enriches DIVA’s jewellery collection. It complements the story of the development of art-nouveau jewellery made in Brussels and allows the museum to tell the story of Maison Wolfers in greater depth. Internationally renowned for his timeless pieces of jewellery, Philippe Wolfers created some 130 designs of which no more than 25 have been located to date. The Orchidée ailée will be on display at DIVA from 9 December.
Broche, Maison Wolfers Frères, 1970s
In 2021 DIVA made another purchase that further enhances her post-1958 jewellery collection: a brooch by the firm Maison Wolfers purchased from Frères from Epoque Fine Jewels at the PAN art fair in Amsterdam. The design for the 1970s brooch reflects the spirit of the internationally acclaimed work of jewellery designer and innovator Andrew Grima, previously shown at DIVA as part of The Jeweller´s Art exhibition. You can visit that exhibition virtually on DIVA’s website.
The brooch consists of a rock crystal with engraved yellow-gold, undulating motifs on one side. Inside, the rock crystal is embellished with fifteen pear-shaped citrines and twelve silver-coloured cultured pearls. All this is set in a yellow gold monture. The brooch is secured by means of a double pin system.
Peter Vermandere, 2018 and Salima Thakker, 2017
DIVA has also made contemporary jewellery a permanent part of her collection. The jewels were on loan from jewellery designers Peter Vermandere and Salima Thakker. ‘Cycloids’ (2018) are three rings by Peter Vermandere in gilded brass, silver and patinated silver. Salima Thakker’s silver and gold ‘Modular’ bracelet (2017) can be seen in a new setting. These representative jewels form are a wonderful addition to DIVA’s existing collection of contemporary jewellery.
Peter Vermandere - City of Antwerp collection, DIVA, inv.nr. B559001_03 - Photograph: Dominique Provost
Salima Thakker - City of Antwerp collection, DIVA, inv.nr. B558001_01 - Photograph: Dominique Provost
DIVA, a Brilliant Story rings the changes
From 9 December visitors to DIVA will be invited to follow the journey of the main themes in the collection: diamonds, jewellery and silver. This journey starts in a brand-new room where visitors are introduced to the raw materials and to recent developments in the sector such as urban mining, upcycling and lab-grown diamonds. Here they also learn more about the issues relating to ecology and ethics. Visitors then meet the experts, the traders, the designers and the makers and eventually the people who wear the jewellery or use the silverware. In this way, the museum tells a fuller story across seven themed rooms of the journey from raw material to object or from mine to ring.
DIVA also acknowledges the craftsmanship behind the objects. The creative and production process of jewellery and silver objects is brought to life by means of visuals and sound recordings. In the choice of objects, greater emphasis is also given to contemporary jewellery and silver designers. Furthermore, by addressing areas like visitor support, the museum is looking to lower thresholds and appeal to a broader public. For instance, an introductory text in each room orientates visitors and provides context for what they are about to see, there is a new audio tour and favourite items that showcase the best of the museum’s collection are put in the spotlight.
Festive opening weekend
DIVA has lined up a festive programme for the opening weekend on 9, 10 and 11 December, readying visitors for the ultimate festive month of December. You can watch jewellery and silver polishing demonstrations, take a guided ‘eating culture’ tour, join one of the regular DIVA Deluxe tours and much more besides. The full programme will follow shortly.
Plan your visit:
Below is a selection of low-resolution press images. High-resolution images and additional images are available on request. Images may not be cut and copyright must always be mentioned.
Inge De Rouck