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


Post a Comment