Friday, 3 June 2011

Diamonds and beer

A few days ago (I'm losing track of time), after visiting the incredible flower auction house, we caught two tourist traps in town. One was free, and for that reasons was OK. One cost €15 per person and was a rip off, but man, the tourists seem to like it.

Our first was to watch guys turn these...
Two raw diamonds
...into this...
1.64 carat, near perfect colour, 121 facets. Only €24,850. Get two, I say. this.
Grinding in the facets 
...and more checking.
The "tour" here is more like an extended sales pitch for Gassan. But you get to talk to the guys polishing the diamonds, which made it worthwhile. Here's some of this thing I learned:

  • It takes like 4 days to add 64 more facets to a brilliant cut diamond that already has 57 facets.
  • There's no "school" to learn diamond cutting and polishing; it's all on the job.
  • You can turn any diamond, of any size no matter how small, into any kind of cut you want, but there's no money in it to work the little guys, because it's too labour intensive.
  • It's like an assembly line, because the folks who do it get specialized (and mistakes are somewhat costly). There are people who just cut rough diamonds into rough "point" shapes using saws. There are folks that just chop them in half to create a basic table cut shape. There are folks that just add facets, and other folks who just add more facets.
  • By the time you're done, the stone is at least 50% smaller than what they started with, and the rest is ground into dust -- and the dust is kept to make tools that cut diamonds and other things.

KC saw many, many sparkly things she liked. Fortunately for me, there were sufficient restraining harnesses to prevent her from emptying my retirement savings.

From Gassan Diamonds, we wandered across town, passing a drawbridge being raised that had tram tracks on it...
Note the slots that open in the road for the overhead wires
...which created a traffic jam of about 50 bicyclists and 20 pedestrians on each side...
Backed up, waiting impatiently
...and an interesting piece of art.
Fallen tree, complete with stump, all made out of metal
Then we went to the Heineken Experience, in the building that was the original Heineken brewery. I've toured a brewery or two in my time, and have made my own beer. While it is always interesting to see the original copper kettles (now worth millions for the copper alone)...
Beautiful copper 
Engineering meets art
...this "tour" is a huge ripoff, full of misinformation (Heinekin is not the only top fermented commercial beer; hops do add bitterness but not only in the head, and they are used to flavour beer, too; the amount of oxidation that can occur in the glass is meaningless and the head doesn't stop it anyway) and really a waste of time, unless you really like watching historical Heineken commercials...
Numbed by the radiation
...or want to make a silly video...
...or get your photo taken.
We got this taken because?
It costs €15 per person to get in, and you get 3 beer (which considering you can buy a 250 ml Heinekin in the store for about 1.20 or in a bar for about €3.00, seems a might bit steep to me).

Ordinarily, diamonds and beer would make a great combo, but today less so. At least the sunset that night was nice.
Colours out the window.

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