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Lace: There are two kinds of Belgian lace: exquisite handmade pieces and machine-made stuff. Machine-made lace is not necessarily bad -- indeed some of it is very good -- but this is the form used to mass produce pieces of indifferent quality to meet the demand for souvenirs. The highest-quality lace is handmade. Brussels, Bruges, and Ghent are the main, but far from the only, points of sale.

Pralines: The Swiss might argue the point, but the plain truth is that Belgian handmade chocolates, filled with various fresh-cream flavors, are the finest in the universe. Those devilish little creations -- handmade Belgian pralines -- are so addictive they should be sold with a government health warning attached. You can't go wrong if you buy chocolates made by Wittamer, Nihoul, Leonidas, or Neuhaus, available from specialist stores around Belgium.

Diamonds: One thing is for sure, you'll be spoiled for choice in Antwerp's Diamond Quarter, which does six times as much diamond business as Amsterdam. Much of the trade here is carried on by the city's Orthodox Jewish community, whose conservative ways and traditional black clothing make a striking contrast to the glitter of their stock-in-trade.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.