Monday, April 7, 2014

Birmingham’s jewellery quarter sparkles with tradition

There are many gems in Birmingham, and there's a large collection of them in the city's Jewellery Quarter in Hockley. Nearly half of all the jewellery made in Britain comes from this 264 acre part of the country.

Some 12 million pieces of jewellery are hallmarked in this area of Birmingham every year, at the world's biggest assay office. It's also where the School of Jewellery is located, the largest of its kind in Europe.

This historic area dates back to the early 1800s, and a century later around 30,000 people were employed in the jewellery trade there. Today, although there has been a marked decline over the years due to cheaper jewellery imports and a lack of demand, some of the UK’s top jewellers have presences in the quarter, with their master craftsmen continuing the trade.

Visitors can get a great sense of times past and present at the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter on Vyse Street. There, you can get a guided tour of this workshop that was founded in 1899 and remains alive today. You can see craftspeople at work and purchase designer items at the museum's shop.

Keeping traditions alive

A resurgence in the Jewellery Quarter, backed by local business and government initiatives in redevelopment and conservation, has led to a surge of investment in this well-known area in terms of residential properties and business locations. Tourism was earmarked several decades ago and continues to develop.

The quarter is believed to have the highest concentration of jewellers anywhere in Europe. Altogether, there are around 700 firms in the area that are in some way involved in the jewellery trade, and more than half of them produce jewellery.

Much of what’s made is for the retail as well as the wholesale markets, including exports. Altogether there are more than 100 Jewellery Quarter shops that attract people looking for something a bit more unique than they might find on their on high street. If they don’t find something to their taste, customers can discuss a particular design they might have in mind and have their very own piece of jewellery designed just for them.

Gem of a place

Some of the UK's leading diamond experts are located in the quarter, and specialise in engagement and wedding rings. A distinctive setting in an engagement ring could add extra sparkle to any marriage proposal, sealed with exclusive weddings bands that are also available in platinum.

Of course, the Jewellery Quarter is not just about expensive metals and shiny gems, although that is the main reason for its continued existence. There's lots more to see and do in the area, however, including art galleries and bars and restaurants. When you're finished browsing the fantastic range of jewellery shops and learning about the area’s past, you can take in an exhibition and relax over a coffee, rounding out an enjoyable day out whether you purchased some jewellery or not.

It’s not for nothing that the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter is known as “Birmingham’s Gem”.

Author Bio - John Stokes is a freelance writer with an interest in the jewellery industry. He contributes to and researches on a number of websites, including


Friday, April 19, 2013

South Africa Venetia diamond mine returning to normal production levels

Venetia diamond mine in South Africa is the largest diamond mine in the country, and also one of the largest diamond mines in the world. It is owned by the world's largest diamond company De Beers with the production of more than 3 million carats per year.

The first few months of 2013 weren't were good in terms of production for Venetia diamond mine because of unusually heavy rainfall and mine flooding. The extension of this year's rainfall hasn't been seen for decades and has led to flooding of the mine with 23 meters of water.

This has led to major decrease in production but the production should return back to normal in the second half of the year. At the start of this year De Beers invested  $2.27 billion in the Venetia mine that should be enough to guarantee production for the next three decades.

Venetia diamond mine represents around three quarters of total South-African diamond production for De Beers so this massive investment doesn't come as a big surprise.

De Beers have recently also announced the launching of the largest sea-going vehicle in the world for mining diamonds that should soon become responsible for a full 30% of the firm's annual diamond production, or in numbers should be able to recover approximately 350,000 carats of precious gems.


Monday, December 17, 2012

United States is still the world's largest diamond market

United States is still the world's largest diamond market with the total share of 38% of global diamond market. In the year 2011 United States accounted for $27 billion in sales of diamonds and diamond jewelry, compared to a total of $71 billion in sales reached worldwide. This report was recently announced by the consulting firm Bain and Company.

In their report, Bain analysts also pointed some other interesting facts in this report like for instance that the total quantity of rough diamonds marketed annually dropped by 3% from 128 million carats in 2010 to 124 million carats in 2011. This reduction in rough diamond production has resulted in increased prices of both rough and polished diamonds as the demand for diamonds grew.

Rough diamonds. In the last few years there has been a reduction in rough diamond production.

Globally speaking, diamond industry continues to grow, even despite the ongoing financial issues in much of the world. This is because of the expansion to new markets thanks to the growth of the middle class in countries like China and India.

The future outlook for diamond industry remains positive. Diamonds are not only used for the manufacture of diamond jewelry, in fact more than three quarters of mined diamonds end up being used by different industries.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Why should you buy Canadian diamonds?

Canada is quickly becoming one of the top diamond producers. Many Canadian diamond mines are increasing their production and given the gigantic size of Canada's territory it is realistically to expect that Canada will remain one of the top world diamond producers for foreseeable future.

Canadian diamonds are also known as polar diamonds, and they are among the best quality diamonds on the global diamond market, especially in terms of hardness and purity.

Quality and hardness are not the only reasons why buyers choose Canadian diamonds. One thing that is equally, if not more important, is that these diamonds aren't conflict or blood diamonds like some diamonds from Africa are.

These diamonds are not financed by guerrilla groups in countries at civil war like this was for instance case with diamonds from Sierra Leone. There is no forced child labor, rape, torture, and other horrible things associated with blood diamonds.

There are very strict regulations enforced all over Canada in relation to diamond mining and mining in general, with very strict labor and environmental laws. In fact, many Canadian diamond mines are ISO certified, meaning that they follow the best possible environmental practices.

Buying Canadian diamonds with polar bear image trademark therefore gives you not only top quality but also ethical security, which cannot be provided with some of the diamonds coming from Africa.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Petra ramping up South-African diamond production

Diamond production in South Africa has very long history, starting from the second half of the 19th century. South Africa is one of the world's top diamond producers, and has the most diverse range of diamond deposits in the world. It is expected that the diamond production from South African mines will ramp up in the coming year.

The large diamond company Petra announced an expected increase of 30% in diamond production from its mines in South Africa, especially Finsch mine that in the last year managed to more than double its production.

Thanks to an increased diamond production in South Africa, Petra's projections for the 2013 estimate a mining value of 2.85 million carats of rough stones. By 2020, Petra's annual diamond production should reach five million carats.

Petra has bought many diamond mines in South Africa from De Beers (in 2009 De Beers closed almost two thirds of its diamond mining operations in South Africa).

Thanks to an increased diamond production the firm's profits increased by over a third to pass the $100 million mark for the year.

There were certain fears inside the global diamond industry that South Africa has lost its prominent place on global diamond map. Despite the fact that South African diamond industry needs to pass several difficult challenges (job creation, appropriate regulation, creating adequate incentives to attract more investors, etc. ), there's still plenty of diamond left in the country, and that should give country many new economic opportunities in years to come.