Israel is a mecca for polished diamonds, with its exchange in Ramat Gan constituting one of the largest diamond-trading centers in the world. But unless you're a certified diamond trader, the place is off limits to you.
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Second-best for sheer gawking is a visit to the Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Museum, located one floor below the exchange. Here, you can view a dazzling array of diamonds and multi-colored gems from around the globe, as well as convincing replicas of some of the planet's most famous rocks (one of Elizabeth Taylor's modest gifts from Richard Burton stands out). The stones' shimmering effect is enhanced by the dark vault-like setting of the museum, where only the gems are spot-lit.
In addition to gaping at the jewels, you can also learn a few cool things about the diamond industry here. Different audiovisual stations, activated by the push of a button, follow the diamond's journey – from its creation in a volcanic eruption to the mining, manufacturing and polishing processes. The films – available in English and several other languages – are accompanied by related displays, including diamond-cutting tools and explanations of the 4Cs (carat, color, clarity and cut) used to assess a diamond’s worth. The grand finale, a film simulating a typical sale, is a peek at the way diamonds are bought and sold a couple of floors above you.
The museum is named after the South African diamond tycoon who helped Israel establish a diamond industry. Its location in the heart of the city makes it easily accessible by bus or train (get off at the Tel Aviv Center Savidor station and walk five minutes toward Ramat Gan).
Hours: Sun, Mon, Wed, Thurs: 10 A.M – 4 P.M., Tues: 10 A.M. – 6 P.M.
Cost: 24 NIS per adult, 12 NIS per child
Address: 1 Jabontinsky St., Ramat Gan, Maccabi Bldg.