A Guide to Birmingham’s Treasure Island

It’s a rare place where people who appreciate the finer things in life can spend hours (days even) salivating over all manner of gorgeous bejewelled products, from rings, bracelets and chokers to earrings, cufflinks and watches.

Truly, there is something for every want, need and budget in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter – a historic area of Britain’s second city where buyers and browsers alike can enjoy admiring everything from traditional gold, silver, diamond and sapphire jewellery to avant-garde products that are far more quirky and unique in nature. With stock jewellery, off-the-counter jewellery and bespoke jewellery designed and made to order, there really is no type of jewellery-related product that this unique area is not able to offer.

‘Treasure Island’
Nicknamed Treasure Island, the Quarter is home to more than 100 retail jewellery shops and is thought to be the only area of its kind in Europe, maybe even the world. The Jewellery Quarter Discovery Centre – a museum built around the restored workshops of the Smith & Pepper family business founded by Charles Smith and Edwin Pepper – describes the area as “both a unique flashback to the early days of the city’s industrial development and a living, evolving community of craftspeople, manufacturers and retailers.”

This is a very apt description.

When work began on the Discovery Centre in 1990, around 70,000 objects were photographed, catalogued and removed for safekeeping. In the process, the Smith & Pepper premises at 77-78 Vyse Street were repaired and restored and the contents put back exactly where they had been found, whilst No. 79 (next door) was rebuilt to provide visitor facilities and display space.

The origins of the city’s jewellery trade hark back to the glories of its industrial past. Indeed, metal implements, such as scythes and other cutting tools, were being made by local smiths as early as the 15th century. In fact, the earliest goldsmith recorded by name and profession was a gentleman by the name of John Blakwyn who worked in the city in 1460.

Birmingham’s jewellery trade reached its employment zenith just before the outbreak of the First World War when somewhere between 60,000 and 70,000 people relied on it for their living. Once the war began, craftsmen who did not go to fight in Europe found themselves making munitions instead of jewellery. Fortunately, normal service resumed in the Quarter after the war; however, life had changed and the jewellery trade in Birmingham would never again employ so many people.

The Quarter today
Even though Birmingham’s jewellery trade today provides work for a comparatively modest 8,000 people, it is still far and away Britain’s biggest volume producer of gold jewellery. In addition, The Quarter has now become a conservation area that is rightly proud of its many historic structures. Among them are the Grade I-listed jewellers’ church of St Paul, itself set within Birmingham’s last Georgian square; the landmark Chamberlain Clock erected in 1903; and the Birmingham Assay Office – which is still the busiest in Britain!

History And Knowledge At Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter

UK jewellers look with envy upon Birmingham’s centre for precious stones. 40% of the UK’s jewellery trade passes through the area of Hockley making it a great place to seek out quality jewels at the best prices in the country. It is not only a place to buy however, it is also a place to visit, particularly because of its historical importance. The Quarter was home to 30,000 workers at the peak of the industry in the early 1900s and while things have changed since then, there is still an unquenchable demand around the UK and the world for peerless diamonds as well as goldsmiths who can make the rings to match. This means that Birmingham is still the place to come for the best deals on diamonds and quality rings, particularly on the main thoroughfare of the Jewellery Quarter which is Vyse Street. Jewellers line this street with windows that glitter with diamonds beyond, while the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter seeks to add to the history and heritage of the entire area. There are modern as well as Victorian shops which give you an impression of the sediments of history being laid down as technological and fabrication processes improved alongside our ability to seek out the most flawless diamonds and metals. If you are looking for some history with your jewellery shops Birmingham can certainly provide.

Jewellery has many different aspects with metals ranging from bronze to platinum along with gemstones and golds. At the head of it all, however, is the diamond. A product of the Earth’s natural formation, diamond truly are something to behold. It gives our planet its uniqueness and is in many ways a symbolic testament to our home. While diamond can be formed anywhere in the universe through the same processes, on our planet it is comparatively rare. This really adds to why we behold this stone ahead of all others. It is the hardest natural substance, it was formed in the passionate inferno of the early Earth and it will last far longer than us. The aspect of continuity really adds to the family aspect, particularly since diamonds can be passed down and kept as family treasures. The diamond is the perfect companion and symbol for relationships, reliability and steadfastness.

Diamonds themselves are graded according to how perfect they are. Some have colourations which can add or subtract value, while some have flaws and others have relatively few. The unique measurable aspect of diamonds is their ability to use light, splitting it, reflecting it and twinkling it. Magnification is used by experts to peer into the diamond to see how many inclusions it has. An internally flawless diamond is incredibly rare and by extension, incredibly expensive, and as more and more inclusions crop up the price drops and the supply becomes more plentiful. This is why the more perfect diamonds should be kept hold of and cared for, particularly if they are sizable. If you have an interest in diamonds, then the Jewellery Quarter Birmingham is the place to come.

Selecting engagement rings in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter

Preparing to pop the question can be daunting. It takes plenty of courage to ask this all-important question. Of course, one of the issues you’ll need to consider is the ring you’ll hand over. This is the symbol of your love for your partner so it’s got to be spot on.

Rather than taking the plunge and buying a ring yourself, risking the possibility that your other half won’t like it, you might instead want to go shopping for the gem with your partner by your side. That way, she can choose for herself and will end up with something that suits her perfectly. When it comes to shopping expeditions like this, there’s no better place to visit that the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter. Put simply, the jewellery shops in Birmingham are superb.

Jennifer Aniston gets the perfect ring

Former friends star Jennifer Aniston recently received the diamond engagement ring of her dreams. The glamorous actress was asked for her hand in marriage by Justin Theroux. The pair were dining at Greenwich Village restaurant Blue Hill to celebrate his 41st birthday when he handed over the emerald-cut diamond.

Commenting on the proposal, Theroux’s publicist said that he “had an amazing birthday on Friday, receiving an extraordinary gift when his girlfriend, Jennifer Aniston, accepted his proposal of marriage”.

Serious bling

Meanwhile, talking about the gem she was given, a source said: “It’s a huge emerald-cut diamond. It’s a rectangle with tapered diamond baguettes on the sides. It’s beautiful. Just after Jen got engaged, she called all her friends and told them about it. She was so happy and said she loves the ring. I think she was overwhelmed and overjoyed by the size and beauty of it!”

The gesture has taken the celebrity duo’s relationship to a new level. They have reportedly been friends for a long time, but only started dating around a year ago after filming the movie Wanderlust.

Make a day of it

When you and your partner are planning your shopping trip to the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter, make sure you give yourself enough time in the city. After all, there’s no sense in rushing the process. The purchase could be one of the most important the pair of your make.

Also, there is plenty of choice in this part of Birmingham and you need to make sure you have time to investigate all your options. There are hundreds of retailers and designers in the area and it is known as the UK’s centre for jewellery.

A romantic break

You can also inject some extra romance into the trip by taking in some of the wonderful sights and sounds in the quarter. In addition to all the jewellery shops, there are lots of art galleries, museums, restaurants and bars for you to explore and make the most of. Of course, you might want to keep your alcohol consumption down to a minimum until you’ve made your choice.

This is not the kind of decision you want to make while you’re tipsy!

The Unique Appeal of the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter

If you are someone who has a real passion for jewellery then there is one place in the UK that you really need to visit – The Birmingham Jewellery Quarter.

This square kilometre in the Hockley area of Birmingham is Europe’s largest concentration of businesses involved in the jewellery trade. In addition, it is also home to the world’s largest Assay Office, which hallmarks around 12 million items a year. Traditionally, this unique, charming and innovative part of the city has been the birthplace of many pioneering advancements in industrial technology and attracted ‘in the know’ artisans and manufacturers from far and wide. Indeed, at its peak in the early 20th century, more than 30,000 people were employed in jewellery-based activities in and around the area.

However, because the Jewellery Quarter was a tight knit community which indulged in very little retail activity, it remained one of Birmingham’s best kept secrets.

Not any more.

Today, this part of Birmingham is a jewellery buyer’s heaven. In fact, Of the 400 jewellery related businesses in the area, 100 are retail jewellery shops so it really is something of a Mecca for anyone who has a passion for buying fine jewellery.

Indeed, the area is rich in designer-manufacturers who make bespoke items at incredibly competitive prices. Moreover, much of the jewellery that is made in the Quarter is also sold on to stylish London jewellers who inevitably sell it on for much higher prices. In fact, it is estimated that 40 per cent of all the jewellery sold throughout the UK is manufactured in this square kilometre of Birmingham! With this in mind, it should probably come as no surprise that the local assay office, (where gold is tested and marked) is the busiest assay office in the world.

Although jewellery is of course the main draw of the Quarter, it is far from the only attraction. The area is rich in culture and entertainment and has a wide range of bars, cafes, restaurants, museums, art galleries to indulge in and enjoy.

Furthermore, the Quarter also has some fascinating points of historical interest to explore. For example, the Georgian Square around St. Paul’s Church (the last Georgian Square in Birmingham) was once the home of James Watt (inventor of the steam engine) and Washington Irving (the author of ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’). Furthermore, John Baskerville, the printer, calligrapher and designer of the famous Baskerville typeface is buried in St. Paul’s churchyard.

There really is no better way to spend a relaxing and enjoyable day than wandering around this fascinating, charming and intoxicating area of Birmingham. Indeed, there is nowhere else quite like it so a visit here is guaranteed to be an incomparable experience. And, whilst you’re here; don’t forget to pop in and see us at Marlows. With our wide range of amazing jewels and precious stones available at ultra-competitive prices, you can be sure of taking a suitably beautiful souvenir home with you!

Fashion world goes Diamond Crazy for Queen’s Jubilee

If you have browsed your local high street recently, you may have noticed that corgis, teacups and Union Jacks feature more heavily than usual in the fashion world right now. From Marks and Spencers’ patriotic hosiery to Liberty’s limited edition scarves inspired by the classic ‘First Class’ stamp, the upcoming Queen’s Jubilee has captured the imaginations of some of the world’s top fashion designers. And since this year marks sixty years since the Queen’s coronation, the eyes of shoppers around the country are being dazzled by diamonds.

It is true that diamonds never go out of fashion, but with the jubilee only weeks away, the so-called girl’s best friend is considered even more on-trend than usual. From gem-encrusted Alexander McQueen clutch bags to QVC costume-jewellery replicas of the imperial state crown, diamonds and imitation diamonds seem to be prominent in both the high and low ends of the fashion market.

But for those looking for the genuine article, many jewellers in the UK have been preparing for the event by designing and creating special Diamond Jubilee ranges to celebrate the occasion and the jewellers of the famous Birmingham jewellery quarter have been especially busy. The quarter’s Worcestershire Medal Services (WMS) beat off international competition to win the £7 million contract to produce thousands of commemorative medals to be worn by the armed forces, emergency service workers, prison staff and others to mark the jubilee.

Beyond this wave of fashion, the 2012 jubilee is likely to renew public interest in diamonds and, here at Marlows Certified Diamonds, we can think of no better way to find out more about the gems than to visit to the jewellery quarter. If you are keen to learn more about diamonds and jewellery in general or if you would simply like to mark Her Majesty’s jubilee in a more unusual way before the street parties begin, you might consider a trip to the quarter’s jewellery museum. Originally a jewellery factory, the museum tells the story of the jewellery quarter and the tradition of jewellery-making and metalworking in Birmingham. Many visitors to the quarter find that a guided tour of the museum and witnessing a demonstration of jewellery-making techniques at the jeweller’s bench enhances their understanding of the quarter immensely.

If you decide to visit the quarter in advance of the jubilee, you may be tempted to jump on the diamond bandwagon by investing in a commemorative bracelet or broach. But if you would like to get a truly unique jubilee gift for a friend or relative or if you would like to own a one-of-a-kind memento, you might consider a Marlows Certified Diamonds custom-made ring, necklace, pendant, bracelet or pair of earrings. Having been in operation for over three generations, we are experienced manufacturers of high-class jewellery and would be delighted to tailor a piece of jewellery to your unique specifications to commemorate the jubilee, so that once the bunting has been binned and the Union Jack tea towel has been stained, you will still have your piece of history.

Head to the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter before your Big Day

Arranging your wedding can be quite a challenge. There are so many details to organise and it seems like more and more people are turning to specialist planners to help them out.

However, there’s one aspect of your nuptial preparations that you really have to do yourself because it’s so personal and that’s choose your wedding ring. By heading to the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter with your other half, you can take your pick from a superb range of items and you shouldn’t struggle to find something that suits your tastes and budget perfectly.

Minimising stress

According to a report in the Southern Reporter, brides-to-be are increasingly turning to wedding planners ahead of their nuptial celebrations. It stated: “If you’re finding it hard to choose the details of the style you would like or are simply frozen and stupefied by the endless possibilities, a planner can guide you through the madness.”

The news source went on to remark: “The right person will be at the end of the phone whenever you start to wobble over decisions, providing plenty of inspiration. A good planner will also be a sounding board for any ideas or concerns you have.”

Perfect for worriers

According to the publication, getting specialists like this on board is ideal for those who have a tendency to worry. It suggested the help these people provide can be a “real stress buster”.

Meanwhile, getting planners involved can also be great if people have demanding jobs, children to look after or are studying for exams, it pointed out.

Diamond jewellery you’ll cherish forever

When it comes to the wedding bands you and your partner will wear however, it’s a good idea to take control of the reins and make the decisions yourselves. After all, items like this are extremely personal and it’s only by leading the selection process that you’re guaranteed the perfect results.

This is why it can make sense to head to jewellers and peruse the options open to you. As long as you select retailers that can offer the necessary variety and quality, it shouldn’t take long to find just what you’re after.

Why it makes sense to use jewellers in Birmingham

Of course, there are jewellery retailers across the UK, but if you’re after the widest selection and very best items around, it really does pay off to head to Birmingham. The city is the epicentre of the nation’s jewellery industry and is the ideal place to shop for beautiful diamonds rings and other similar items.

You can be confident that you’ll see plenty of gleaming creations that catch your eye.

Lots to see and do

As well as finding gorgeous wedding bands, you can have a great day out or even indulge in a mini-break in this part of Birmingham. There are plenty of art galleries, museums, restaurants and bars for you and your spouse-to-be to explore.

To find out more about this fantastic area and the delights it may have in store for you, just take a look around the rest of our website.

U.K Couples Invest in Diamonds

Nuptial jewellery has a long tradition, and the engagement ring is certainly thought of as an eminent item of part of it. The Birmingham Jewellery Quarter is packed with superbly gifted craftsman and jewellers.  In fact, Birmingham jewellers still make an estimated 40% of the U.K’s native high end jewellery.
A delightful side to the community of the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter is that our jewellers are able to chatter about all the latest trends and industry developments. Recently, more couples than ever have made it clear that their budgets won’t be going on smaller diamonds in favour of a big wedding, but will be used as investments in something stunning and valuable.
Modern marrying couples are older than ever. The average marriage ages for men and women respectively are now thirty-six and thirty-three. These are people with disposable incomes and a decent wage coming into the household. Many of them will have lived together before marriage and perhaps bought their home. They’re not the poor, struggling young people newly engaged couples once were (both men and women were in their early twenties when they married back in the 1950s) and are therefore electing to put their money where their engagement rings are!
Diamonds make one of the safest investments in the world, so it makes perfect sense that marrying couples are electing to seal their love with a sound investment; after all, they’ve already got the house, the cat and the joint pension!

A Very Long Engagement?

It seems that after falling out of favour with Brits, marriage is becoming a more popular step for many couples, and that means a visit to our Birmingham jewellery quarter shop for some glorious diamonds!

But according to a poll by TheWeddingReport.com, couples are actually making it down the aisle faster each year. In the past five years the average length of an engagement has gone from eighteen to fifteen months. We meet lots of lovely prenuptial couples (and a fair few nervous pre-proposing other halves!) visiting our exceptional U.K jewellers in search of engagement rings, so we asked some of them a few questions about when they intended to actually marry.

Most said their idea of the Big White Wedding had fallen by the wayside in favour of smaller, more intimate wedding celebrations, often abroad. But this shift in matrimonial trends isn’t getting marrying couples down; they’re happily planning celebrations around their unique take on what makes a superb day (or a week in the sun!) Marrying abroad or on a smaller scale can be organised far quicker, so couples are making it down the aisle an average of three months earlier!

Jewellers are fantastic places to learn all the latest trends and wedding industry chatter. Our shop is certainly no exception; we believe in a professional, personable approach to helping our clients choose from our nuptial jewellery collection. If that means having a good chatter about wedding plans over a coffee or champagne then so be it!

A must see place for diamond lovers

If you have a passion for diamonds, there is one place in the UK that’s really worth a visit. The Birmingham Jewellery Quarter is truly remarkable, containing a wide variety of specialist jewellers and steeped in history and charm.

For more than two centuries, this part of the country has been home to a plethora of some of the most highly talented goldsmiths and jewellery makers around. It is now a hugely popular place for both consumers and traders to visit on the hunt for these sparkly gems.

And as well as perusing the superb range of gorgeous precious stones on offer, you can also make the most of the fabulous bars, cafes, restaurants, museums, art galleries and other such things that abound in this part of the city.

There is no better way to spend a relaxing and enjoyable day wandering around jewellers in Birmingham and, if you are travelling from far afield, you might even want to make a weekend of it and stay overnight. There are plenty of hotels in the area for you to choose from and, particularly if you book in advance, you can benefit from superb deals.

There is nowhere else in England that can compete with the Jewellery Quarter. There is something about the rich history and sheer concentration of jewellery shops in this location that sets it apart from anywhere else.

Of course, as well as having a brilliant time while in the area, you might also find some gorgeous items of jewellery to take away. From stunning rings to delicate necklaces, enticing earrings and so on, it really does have it all.

Be inspired by the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham

If you are on the lookout for the perfect diamond jewellery, you might want to turn your attention to the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter. This iconic area is renowned for its array of superb jewellers and taking a trip there can be truly inspirational.

Sometimes, the best way to get ideas for rings, earrings, bracelets and so on is to see a selection of such offerings. This can help you get a much clearer idea of what exactly it is that appeals to you and you may also come across styles and designs you have never seen before.

Simply heading to your local high street might not cut it as you may be very limited in choice. In contrast, making your way to the famous Jewellery Quarter located in the heart of England presents you with a virtually overwhelming selection of gems.

Spending a few hours immersed in this gleaming and glamorous world can really get your imagination working and you might well develop a clear idea of exactly what it is you want from your jewellery. Indeed, you may even see and purchase the perfect item for you.

And, while you are in this fascinating area, you can also make the most of the superb eateries, bars, cultural attractions and so on that line the streets.

There really is no better way to gain inspiration when you are on the lookout for diamonds and you might well be shocked by the variety of jewellery shops that exist in this location.