It’s no secret that one of the main reasons people visit Birmingham’s beautiful Jewellery Quarter is to purchase a special ring or piece of jewellery.
But there’s far more to it than that; Birmingham’s internationally-renowned centre of jewellery manufacturing offers surprises aplenty and a whole host of ways to make use of one’s time.
This is great news, because, chances are, once you’ve finished shopping for that special gift or proposal of marriage, you’ll have some free time on your hands.
We’d like to help you use that time most effectively, which is why we’ve decided to use this blog post to list the best things to do in the Jewellery Quarter once you’ve found your ring.
But first, a quick history lesson…
How did the Jewellery Quarter arise?
The Jewellery Quarter has been around for a long time – roughly two-hundred and fifty years, to be exact.
Over that time, it has evolved from a humble section of Birmingham in which a passion for manufacturing beautiful jewellery began to emerge into what is now Europe’s largest concentration of businesses involved in the trade.
The area sat at the heart of the industrial revolution and was in no small part jointly responsible for helping Birmingham become known as the ‘city of a thousand trades’.
These days, it remains the place to browse and buy the most extensive range of rings and other jewellery in the UK and is home to a vibrant population of millennials, ambitious businesses and unique places to eat and drink.
Things to do in the Jewellery Quarter
So, you’ve found your ring or special piece of Jewellery – what next?
What follows is our absolute favourite Jewellery Quarter hotspots that will offer the perfect tonic after a heavy bout of shopping.
St Paul’s Square
This is the last remaining Georgian Square in Birmingham and hails from the 18th century.
Named after the attractive church in its centre, this is a beautiful place to meet, chill out or simply take a wander when you need to stretch your legs after all that shopping.
The church (aptly named St Paul’s Church) is a Grade I listed building and dates all the way back to the 1770s. Featuring gorgeous stained glass windows and an instantly recognisably square, it’s the perfect place to reconvene if your shopping party decides to head in different directions.
It’s also surrounded by fantastic places to eat and drink.
More recently, a number of apartment schemes have been built in the area, making for a vibrant local culture and what is nearly always a busy yet peaceful place in an otherwise bustling city.
Warstone Lane Cemetery
Dating all the way back to 1848, the Warstone Lane Cemetery was designed to be a burial ground for members the Anglican Church.
As a result, it features fantastically preserved catacombs and makes for a really interesting, cultured visit while you’re in the Jewellery Quarter.
The unique, blue brick gate lodge building is Grade II listed and certainly deserves a peek.
The Pen Museum
Although, on the face of it, this might not sound like the most exciting day out, the Jewellery Quarter’s Pen Museum is a fascinating place to visit if you’ve got some time to spare.
This is the only museum in the country dedicated to the history of pen making and details exactly how Birmingham became the centre of the world’s pen trade.
Volunteer guides (the museum is run be a registered charity) will show you around the Grade II listed building that was originally opened in 2001. Those wishing to get a bit more ‘hands on’, will enjoy the live demonstrations and ability to try out all manner of different styles of pens (and not to mention typewriters and Braille machines).
You’ll be surprised by how fascinating and captivating a history lies behind pens!
The Chamberlain Clock
One of the Jewellery Quarter’s most famous and instantly recognisable landmarks sits conveniently in the middle of a busy roundabout (should you get lost and need to relocate yourself!).
The Chamberlain Clock is situated at the junction of Frederick Street and Vyse Street and dates back to 1903.
This Edwardian clock tower is made from cast-iron, and while it might not represent anything more than a photo opportunity and something to say “yes, I’ve seen that!”, it’s absolutely something you need to take time out to see if you’re in the area.
The Coffin Works
Situated in the former Newman Brothers’ factory, The Coffin Works is a trip back in time to 1960s Britain.
Found in Fleet Street, it takes visitors on a journey of sights, sounds and even smells of the 60s. Some awesome hands-on action can also be found for younger visitors.
The Coffin Works was once hailed as the place in which the world’s finest coffin furniture was built, and even undertook fittings for the funerals of Chamberlain, The Queen Mother and Winston Churchill.
It’s open Wednesday to Sunday, therefore if you happen to be ring shopping on one of those days and fancy a break – literally – in another world, it’s well worth a visit.
And finally: The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter
The last entry on our list is the famed museum of the Jewellery Quarter, which can be found on Vyse Street.
Built around the preserved Smith and Pepper jewellery factory (which closed in 1981), this museum gives visitors a glimpse at how jewellery workers of a bygone era used to go about their craft.
A tour of the entire factory is on offer (at specific times), and you can also watch live demonstrations and visit a gallery that beautifully details the history of jewellery craft.
Tickets are relatively affordable, which makes this particular break from shopping a no-brainer. After all, what better way to cap off a day shopping for the most important jewellery of all than by finding out more about the heritage behind it?
We hope you enjoyed our list of things to do in the Jewellery Quarter once the shopping has finished. Keep it in your back pocket for whenever you go and make the most of this wonderful corner for Birmingham.