Intangible Heritage

Craft recognized as intangible heritage

Friday, September 20, 2013, new traditions were added to the Nationale Inventaris Immaterieel Cultureel Erfgoed (National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage). The National Inventory is a result of the Dutch ratification of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which obliges The Netherlands, among other things, to map its own intangible heritage. UNESCO considers it important that traditions are protected, by keeping them viable for the future in a form that also appeals to new generations. The UNESCO Convention was ratified by The Netherlands last year.

The National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage is compiled by the Centrum voor Volkscultuur en Immaterieel Erfgoed (Centre for Popular Culture and Intangible Heritage).

One of the newly placed traditions is the craft of diamond working. It is an important craft for the Dutch history, closely linked to the Jewish history in Amsterdam.

The diamond history of Amsterdam goes back to the sixteenth century, where it was mainly practiced in Jewish circles. It is a precise and artisanal work, the main components of which are cleaving, sawing, cutting and polishing.

Two of Amsterdam’s largest diamond companies, Coster Diamonds and GASSAN Diamonds, took the lead in placing the craft on the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Kees Noomen (director Coster Diamonds) and Benno Leeser (president-director GASSAN Diamonds) proudly accepted the certificate and the shield with the logo, which was presented by Ineke Strouken (director of the Centre for Popular Culture and Intangible Heritage).

Being placed on the National Inventory implies a special recognition. It expresses that behind these traditions that have been recognized, there is an active community that is committed to keeping the traditions viable. Coster Diamonds and GASSAN Diamonds do this by setting up a diamond worker training program and giving tours to national and international visitors to educate on diamonds. This allows the tradition and craft to be passed on to younger generations. In 2012 the two diamond dealers together received 742.249 (inter)national visitors.