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Corporate History

 

Diamond Exchange Building in Antwerp

DCI™ is part of the GROUP DTS with offices in Antwerp, Barcelona, London and Tel Aviv.
The Antwerp office trades as DCI™ – Diamond Centers International®.

The business is now managed by Norbert A. Streep. From 1999 to 2006 Vivi-Anne Streep the youngest daughter joined the family business.




Diamond Exchange Hall in Antwerp

Back in 1826 Mr. Solomon L. Streep became a self employed diamond cutter, his son Wolf followed in his footsteps as a home worker, but after his wedding to Rebecca Prins in March 1875, things changed. Rebecca, who had a completely different idea of marriage, did not tolerate her husband's home crafts. She gathered all his things from the table and threw them into the canal saying "I cannot tolerate a man about the house all day, you must go into the trade properly". Wolf saw in this a powerful indication of faith and without much ado plunged into this new adventure of his career. In 1876 he entered the diamond trade proper and registered with the Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce. Wolf concentrated on diamond fragments, which adorn religious books. Wolf's business expanded so rapidly, that in 1881 he a monopoly in this special aspect of the diamond trade. From that year onwards, when a second dealers union 'The Central Diamonds Union' was situated on the Waterloo Square in Amsterdam, Wolf's career ran parallel with the diamond exchange wealth. By the 1880's Wolf Streep had become a wealthy man and in 1881 he came into contact with Bernie Bernato the founder of the De Beers concern and the Anglo American Corporation. The London section of the corporation was named the Diamond Trading Company better known as the 'Syndicate'.

 

Wolf Streep

This Syndicate accounts for 85% of the worlds' distribution of rough diamonds. Both he and Bernie Bernato were extremely suited to one another and Bernato promised to send Wolf a bag full of diamonds regularly. The arrival of the courier from London followed the same pattern every time.

Wolf's clients were invited to the house, Amstel 208, (built in 1720) which he and Rebecca had moved into in 1889. It was customary, that the buyers arrived after dinner, but should they appear before dinner was over, they were invited to pull up a chair and join in.

 

Amstel 208

After the dinner was over the oil lamp over the table was pulled down and the courier bag was emptied onto the table's white linen 'Damask' tablecloth. The diamonds spread out, Rebecca would stand up and with a total impassive face snatch the largest stone and put it in the deep pocket of her apron saying 'This one is mine'. Only after this performance, business began. Rebecca and Wolf had thirteen children of which unfortunately eleven died. Only her eldest son Nathan and her youngest son Joseph survived. Nathan was the school friend of Henry Polak, who was later to become a highly regarded and respected socialist and co-founder of the Diamond Cutters Union. Nathan learned the diamond cleaving trade at his father had started, and started a workshop with thirty two diamond cleavers in the attic of the family home. It was then the largest workshop of this kind in Amsterdam. After a few years the company's strengthened relationships with London, and the trips to London became more and more frequent. It was imperative, that they should have a good broker or agent in the British capital.

 

Far right: Nathan Streep and second from the left: Henri Polak

In 1905, Wolf was waiting impatiently for his broker to go with him by train and night boat to London. His partner did not turn up, but on the station he saw a friend of his, Nico Roeg who did not have much to do. Wolf bellowed to him on the noisy platform 'If you go with me to London now, you can become my broker'. Nico Roeg did not hesitate for more than thirty seconds.

He set off without a passport and became in London the founder of Hennig & Company who formed a close relationship with the Oppenheimers, the directors of De Beers. Meanwhile Nathan was working hard, and had managed to save 15,000 guilders. At this time, he decided to leave the family business and start on his own.

His father convinced him to buy his first diamonds from him, which he did and as the quality of these diamonds were quite dubious. Nathan lost 12,000 guilders off the 15,000 that he had saved. He reproached his father furiously and asked for an explanation. Coolly Wolf answered his son by saying 'I did this to you, to show you that you must never trust anyone too much'. Mother Rebecca however had for years carefully saved Nathan's lodging money. She gave it to him and said, "Go and start again, but this time without any interference or assistance from your father".

Nathan's success was fair, but after a few years he returned to his fathers firm. Family ties of the Streep's were very close. One learned outside the family circle but always returned into its midst.

 

Nathan Streep

Nathan's return to the family business coincided with the opening of the diamond exchange building in 1911. This also marks the start of the export of diamonds and diamond jewellery to the United States in a big way, where cousin Joseph Levy, in New York, had all the important diamond connections. The diamond trade flourished and by 1916 total export was worth 51 million guilders. During the depression, Nathan managed to keep the company running.

 

Diamond Exchange Building in Amsterdam

The London Syndicate supplied him with plenty of South African rough diamonds, on condition that these would be cut and polished and that no uncut diamonds would be sold. Nathan, yet, was obligated to sell 90% of the stones uncut. With the remaining 10% he managed for over 3 years to provide work for hundreds of cutters. During the Second World War, the factory in Holland closed down, but Nathan's eldest son William carried on the family business in Canada where he also served as the Dutch Ambassador. After the second World War Nathan's youngest son Robert was sent to learn the diamond and jewellery trade quite extensively by first going to London to learn jewellery manufacturing and design. Subsequently learning the diamond trade as a diamond cleaver in Antwerp. After his training, he married Sylvia van Moppes in 1951. The young couple fearful of the ever-present threat of war, decided to settle in Canada. There Robert traded in diamonds representing both his father Nathan Streep, and his father-in-law Arnold van Moppes.

Although enchanted with the Canadian way of life, they missed the European shores and as the post war economy started to flourish, Robert returned to Amsterdam Holland. Initially, he joined his father-in-law's company where he was responsible for setting up the first permanent diamond exhibition and showroom. In 1957 he resurrected the family business at the same premises where his grandparents once had lived, This time however, integrating a magnificent diamond exhibition and showroom. In the building he also housed the factory that again received traditional merchandise from the CSO in London. (Diamond Sights)

 

Robert & Norbert Streep

Robert's son Norbert, joined the family business after having been trained in America and Belgium in 1974. In 1976, Robert in a continued drive to expand the business suggested that as a father and son team, they open a diamond exhibition and showroom in London. The company in England, which had grown into an attraction visited by 50.000 visitors each year, was headed by Norbert Streep, as C.E.O. and with Robert Streep as Chairman. The London Company was sold in 1991 so Norbert could give his total attention the Head office of the business, which is based in Antwerp.

The business is now managed by Norbert A. Streep. From 1999 to 2006 Vivi-Anne Streep the youngest daughter joined the family business.

To be continued……

 

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