Before going to Antwerp I did my homework and researched on the Internet about the best shops. Hears and arrows consistently appeared in many online forums, and here in Tripadvisor as well, as a place with a personal touch, and which gave its customers a wonderful, memorable experience. We also went to Geretti's (#1 here on Tripadvisor, and they were good and friendly too, nothing bad to say about them), but our experience in Hearts and Arrows was just warm, personal and magical. And I think that this is really important, since this is a very important time for you and your fiancee, and you would like to give her the most pleasant experience possible, correct? I've heard some horror stories of people buying from Orsini's (the biggest establishment in the main street) and getting cheated or at least, offended, by the salespersons. That's something that I would like to avoid at all costs.
The best thing is to set an appointment with Viken or his brother, who are the owners of the shop. He can prepare the diamonds in advance within your price range. His diamonds are all high quality "collection stones" with GIA certificates. Also, you can choose the ring setting for your diamond, so you can personalize the overall look of it. After you've found the right combination, he'll accompany you to a workshop several meters from his shop so you can watch your ring being resized, and the diamond being set in the ring. You are constantly assured that they've not replaced the diamond in any way. I've read on the Internet that many couples found this part the most memorable experience, and so it was for us. There's just something so special about watching your ring being "made." It's an experience that you won't find from other shops. (Apparently, both Viken, and Misa, the skilled worker who resized our ring, are all Armenian Christian immigrants in Antwerp who are known for their honesty and integrity in their work, such a rare thing in this high cost diamond business! My girlfriend had a great time conversing and laughing with them most of the time.)
After the ring was resized and the diamond set, we were ready to take it home, but Viken said it still had to be polished and cleaned. And so he took us to another workshop, were a nice Pakistani guy polished and cleaned our ring with some chemicals. Now, it was in this phase of the process that our jaws dropped. The ring and the diamond really just shone brilliantly and sparkled like we wouldn't believe! It was already beautiful as it was, and we weren't prepared for the transformation. :) This was the most fitting conclusion to our diamond buying experience. And I know it's an experience that we will always remember from now on when we talk about the diamond ring--how wonderful it was when we bought it. Like an adventure story.
So for couples out there looking for a good shop in Antwerp, we highly recommend Hears and Arrows! :) We would certainly want our friends to have the same kind of warm and pleasant experience as we were given the privilege to have.
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