The Birmingham Jewellery Quarter
The Jewellery Quarter is the colloquial name by which the area of Hockley is more familiarly known within the city. The jewellery trade developed here over hundreds of years, from metal products in the 16th century, to its glory days as the most important centre for Britain’s jewellery trade at the height of the industrial revolution.
Metalworking, the forerunner of Birmingham’s jewellery trade, was already established in the 1500s. Birmingham’s metalworkers were casting large cannons, swords and anchors. While those industries have long since left the city, the anchor is still used as a symbol in hallmarking to denote jewellery made in Birmingham.
In the 1600s the industries evolved from heavy casting to finer items such as cutlery and mirrors and in the 1700s Birmingham was supplying the world fine, elaborate items such as silverware, guns, and snuffboxes.
Eventually the area known as Hockley became a hub for toy making, tinkering, clock making and the manufacturing of jewellery. In the late 19th Century the area had over 7000 professionals exclusively working with jewellery, and began to earn its reputation as The Jewellery Quarter.
Why visit the Jewellery Quarter
Birmingham is a large, vibrant city, but the Jewellery Quarter practically sits on its own in terms of reverence, history and compelling reasons for making a visit.
If you need to plan a day out and experience an area quite unlike any other in a big city, we’ve got some compelling reasons to visit the Jewellery Quarter:
Obviously, the Jewellery Quarter remains among the best places in the UK to source stunning rings, earrings and anything that sparkles. There are over one hundred jewellers to check out, with something on offer for every budget.
As noted at the start of this page, the Jewellery Quarter is a historical goldmine, and if you have even a passing interest in beautiful, old architecture or streets that ooze historical significance, it’s a brilliant day out.
Because the Jewellery Quarter has such a detailed history, there are plenty of museums to check out if you fancy getting a feel for the area’s heritage.
Great bars and restaurants
The Jewellery Quarter is considered to be one of the most ‘gentrified’ places in the UK, and that has spawned a huge number of welcoming independent bars and restaurants that all offer a completely unique experience.
6 things you might not know about the Jewellery Quarter:
For the uninitiated, Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter is simply a very nice place to go when you need to source the best wedding or engagement ring for someone special.
In reality, it’s much more than that, with a plethora of things to do and little-known facts that will keep you coming back for more.
With that in mind, we’ve put together six things you might not know about the Jewellery Quarter.
1. The past is slowly being brought back to life
As you wander the timeless streets of the Jewellery Quarter, you can’t help but notice the stunning architecture of the numerous factories that now lie dormant.
Once part of the thriving jewellery industry, many of these buildings are now slowly being converted into fantastic apartments – bringing back to life some of the most historical parts of Birmingham and giving you the chance to own a slice of history.
2. Independent restaurants are thriving
Beyond the big name chains you’ll find throughout Birmingham, the Jewellery Quarter is home to a huge number of independent businesses.
From small cafes, to craft beer houses and fascinating shops, the independent scene in the JQ is thriving.
3. You can reach it for £1
Getting around cities can be pretty expensive if you opt for public transport. Not so, in Birmingham.
Let’s say you arrive by train; a short hop across from New Street Station lies the brilliant tram service which will take you directly to the Jewellery Quarter for just £1 – say “goodbye” to hefty taxi fares!
4. Don’t forget the Golden Square
Once a derelict, weed-infested car park, the Golden Square is now a fantastic place to meet and enjoy a range of events.
For example, when the Rio Olympics was taking place, large screens were erected, and during the summer there’s always a band or two if you fancy taking a breather from the shopping to enjoy brilliant local music.
Alternatively, St Paul’s Square remains a very popular, quiet place to sit down on one of the many benches and enjoy the views of the Grade 1 listed church and surrounding architecture.
5. A jewellery education
If the jewellery industry is something you fancy getting into, you might be interested to hear that the Jewellery Quarter is home to the largest school of jewellery in Europe and is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on jewellery making.
6. A sporting history
Again, it might be tempting to think ‘wedding ring’ when you think of the Jewellery Quarter, but the factories that produce such precious metal have put their skills to use for a host of other reasons, too.
Most notably, both the original FA Cup and Lonsdale boxing champions belts were made in the Jewellery Quarter, earning it a rather special place in the history of sporting achievement.
Have we tempted you to visit the Jewellery Quarter? Go on – pay it a visit!