The World Famous Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, England
After more than 250 years, Birmingham’s famous remains the home to more than 400 companies that trade jewelry. According to English Heritage the area, regarded as protected with its 200 registered buildings, is one of a kind remarkable setting in England, incomparable to any site in Europe. Its becoming a World Heritage Site is in process.
2008 Street view No 19 of the Jewellery Quarter Birmingham
Aside from the buildings, the Quarter houses the last enduring Georgian Square of Birmingham that has fine galleries and bars endowed with serene ambience of St. Paul’s. Two museums of the Quarter are worth visiting. The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter was built in a longstanding jewelry factory and the Pen Museum which reveals the once mighty dominance of the Quarter in pen production. The latter offers free admission. Anyone can really appreciate the historic value of the place through the public paintings/sculptors and the Dark Trails. The eerie crypts in the cemetery help bring out the immensity of its history.
The Quarter’s main offer is the shopping itself. There are more than 100 expert vendors of exquisite handcrafted jewelry, but ordering personally designed jewels is not a far fetch idea. The jewelries, including watches and clocks are reasonably valued. Dealing with specific craftsman, one can surely find something that suits the taste and budget.
Precious metals have been worked in Birmingham since the14th Century but the industry really prospered beginning 1660. King Charles II returned from exile in France after the Civil War and brought back a taste for fancy buttons and shoe buckles. As this fashion spread, metal workers and artisans turned out thousands of pieces in steel and later used silver and burnished gold, inlaid with coloured glass and gem stones. They also made trinket boxes, called ‘Brummagen toys’ and jewellery.
Development in the quarter was rapid in the18th Century. Substantial houses were built for the manufacturers and the artisans lived in more modest terraces. As the expansion of trade continued, work shops sprang up in gardens and work benches were installed in the houses. Different skills and expertise made people in the area reliant on one another and the Jewellery Quarter was established. The famous industrialist Matthew Boulton campaigned energetically for the establishment of Birmingham’s Assay Office in 1773 and now its Assay mark ‘the Anchor’ is a world famous authentication of quality on precious metals.
Royal fashions continued to affect the fortunes o the Jewellery Quarter during the 19th Century. It also became famous for its pen nibs when Joseph Gillott perfected the technique of machine-manufactured steel nibs. This contributed to the spread of literacy and writing to the working classes.
Joseph Gillott Blue Plaque
The Jewellery Quarter Dark Trail
There are two ancient but historic cemeteries inside the Quarter. In 1836 Key Hill was opened. It was a public burial site for all irrespective of religion and belief. A quarry for casting sand used in jewelry-making has been operating adjacent to the place up to the 1930s. It contains crypts of known people like the family of Chamberlain and Alfred Bird, creator of eggless custard. The cemetery is a flourishing sanctuary for extensive varieties of plants and animals and home to 19 kinds of birds. Because of this, the cemetery was registered as a Grade II historic garden.
Another cemetery was opened in 1848 solely for the use of the congregation of the Anglican Church. It was named Warstone Lane and contains gothic designs with well-structured underground tombs. This burial ground, another registered Grade II Historic garden, is the resting place of some known people like Major Harry Gem, the founder of Lawn Tennis and John Baskerville, the printer. The Jewellery Quarter’ Information Centre can provide information to the lists and details of actual memorials in both cemeteries.
Photograph 2 looking down from inside mint cemetery Jewellery Quarter Birmingham 2008
One last component to complete the Dark Trail is located in Fleet St., the Newman Coffin Works. While its coffin production halted in 1998, it is about to be renovated to add a museum. This coffin shop is renowned for making the best coffins in the world including coffins for the well-known deceased personalities such as Chamberlain, Churchill, and Diana,Princess of Wales.
The Jewellery Quarter Gateways & Public Art
The Gateways are situated at the entrances of the Quarter. The Public art are sculptures mounted on lighting columns, designed by Anuradha Patel, a Birmingham artist. The colorful steel structures were formed by a native Hockley fabricator.
⦁ Junction of Great Hampton Street and Vyse Street
– ‘With Love From’ concerns to jewelries used as a tokens for any celebration
⦁ Junction of Great Hampton Street and Hall Street
– ‘Origins of’ concerns to the normal materials used in creating the jewelry
⦁ Junction of Lionel Street and Newhall Street
– ‘Made In’ concerns to the tools and skills required in the creation of the jewelry.
The Quarter has other public arts to include the Prince of Wales Gates and the Pavement Trails in
Spencer Street. These decorative gateways were crafted by a sculptor named Michael Johnson to portray the modern jewellers art.
Working in the Jewellery Quarter
Old Historic Building Jewellery Quarter Birmingham 2008
The Jewellery Quarter has been the site for world famous jewelry industry. Not surprising to see that such thriving industry, with more than 400 business stakeholders, made the location an ideal place to put up other innovative businesses. Other factors such as cheaper work spaces, lower overheads and easily available services made the Quarter more enticing for capitalists. It is once said that almost half of the engineers of Birmingham were already working in the Quarter. Another motivating factor of the Quarter for businesses, aside from the economic side, is its peculiar ambiance and its prominent, remarkable and accessible location. The Midland Industrial Association’s new Albert Wing brought new dimensions to the commercial development of the Quarter. It introduced new concepts in building workshops, making them more spacious and serviced, with a touch of flamboyance that instill sufficient prestige to the tenants while providing services to their customers. The workshops were made of quality materials, but in spite of this, they are made available and affordable. This is the trademark of the Midland Industrial Association, a seemingly non-profit group geared towards humanitarianism. Included in its range of accomplishment is the historically registered Argent Centre. Other workspace facilities are found at Branston Court, known as Urban Workspace, accessible from Tram and Rail Station. The units are fully serviced with reception area and assigned parking space. Another suitably situated workspace is the Big Peg. It is located along the Jewellery Quarter’s Clock and has been undergoing massive internal renovations and will, before long, reap the fruits for being situated in front of a proposed important public courtyard.
Jewellery makers are well-attended to by the Quarter into having affordable workshops. The local government even works for a growth scheme termed ‘ Design Space’ to encourage new and neophyte designer-makers. Moreover, Midland Heart started a ‘Live Work’ system to further help craftsmen.
Eating Out – A Culinary Gem
Jewellery Quarter Restaurants
The Jewellery quarter is presently home to about 30 bars and diners, each offering their own food specialties ranging from Chinese, Italian and Indian. One can sumptuously feasts on a steak or just takes a sip of a favorite drink. There are a lot of cafes and pubs offering sandwiches and coffees for dining inside or outside the establishment.
In the middle of the Quarter is an old building that was once a button manufacturing facility and now houses a must-try Vertu. A popular diner for locals, it serves a wide variety of meals, some light bites and a varied selection of wines and beers. Farther down the alley is the Vaults, a diner set in an oldie ambiance, having timeworn workplace with aerie corners and openings. The place is just perfect for sharing a classic meal with somebody special.
The Drop Forge Bar cannot be discounted for having a historical theme, for its old drop stamps are still being preserved. However, more than the motif, it is now the sumptuous food that makes the excitement.
An array of high-end Asian restaurants line the long recognized Rajdoot in George St. to the superb rarity’ … a steakhouse with raw materials carefully selected from the best British suppliers to come up with a variety of fine steaks fit for royals.
2008 Street view photo 3 of the Jewellery Quarter Birmingham
The Square is also highly regarded for having Cucina Rustica and Pasta Di Piazza to offer the best Italian cuisines. Locante Piccalilli, on the other hand, is indulging their clients with roasted Mediterranean food and pasta specialties amidst historic settings.
In the Quarter, one is assured to be treated with an experience of savoring the best culinary extravaganza of the different countries of the world. Caribbean cuisine is being served in Krystal at Frederick St. while in a diner just blocks away in Hampton St., ‘Blue Nile’ is serving Ethiopian gastronomies. There are other contemporary bars and restaurants worth visiting in the Quarter. These includes the Rectory Bars and Ropewalk in St Paul’s Square, Stirlings in Ludgate Hill, Mechu, Bluu Bar and the Summerow, where the popular Apres can be found.
Situated nearby these establishments is the University College of Birmingham, recognized for the affordable training of chefs to come up with high quality cuisines.
The Quarter is a place with so much antiquity; the presence of old-fashioned pubs is inherently accepted and regarded as vital. This includes the Red Lion in Warstone Lane, the Lord Clifden, a ‘hidden’ jewel in Great Hampton St., the Jewellers Arms in Spencer St., the Queens Arms in Newhall St., and the registered Rose Villa Tavern near the Jewellery Quarter Clock. The first two pubs are managed by Urban Art Bar and they take pride on their long guest lists, for having their own mini-brewery, outstanding bar and food, and for the undeniable stirring art works on the walls.
If only a hot coffee and a cup cake is desired, then a number of independent coffee shops are ready to serve. There is the Fredericks in Frederick St., Saints in St. Paul’s Square, Warstone Lane, Vee’s by the Museum in Vyse St. or the Urban Coffee Bar.
useum of the Jewellery Quarter Silver plaque 75-80 Vyse St, Birmingham B18 6HA, UK 2008
Inside the Quarter is a diversity of traditional attractions including the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, the Pen Museum, the JW Evans Silver Factory and the Acme Whistles. In addition, the anticipated Newman Coffin Works Heritage project can finally be included in the tours of the Quarter. Maybe it is not a farfetched idea to make the Quarter a World Heritage Site in the near future.
Things to do – Museums
ACME Whistles are the manufacturer of the renowned ACME Thunderer referee’s whistle, the Metropolitan police whistles and the whistles used in the mighty Titanic. This famous company has an interesting private museum situated on the edge of the Quarter.
Location; 244 Barr St, Hockley, B19, 3AH.
Opening Times : Prebooked groups only (up to 20).
Admission: Rates negotiable.
Contact : Tel; 0121 554 2124 (contact Debbie)
Birmingham’s Assay Office is said to be the busiest in the World, with its celebrated anchor mark which validates the quality of precious gems. In addition, the Office contains historic silver collection that dates back to the era of Matthew Boulton.
Location: Newhall St.
Opening Times: Pre-booked Tours can be arranged for large or small groups on Tuesdays and
Thursdays. Allow at least two hours
Admission : £10 per head
Contact : Tel; 0871-877-620 citing ‘Silver Visits’
Museum of the Jewellery Quarter
The museum has practically remained unchanged for century. A tour of the museum will provide guests with understanding on how jewelries are made straight on a jeweler’s working table. The guided tour will also treat visitors into a gallery where they can interact directly with workers into discovering the roots of the Quarter and knowing some of the natural raw materials of the craft such as corals and whales’ tooth in the gallery of ‘Earth’s Riches’ . The museum also includes snack bars and teashops offering refreshments and small shops selling souvenir items.
Location : 75-80 Vyse St, Hockley B18 6HA. (just 75 meters from the JQ Clock)
Opening Times: Tuesday to Saturday (plus Bank Holiday Mondays) 10.30am to 4.00pm.
Groups should be booked in advance and allow one hour for the guided tour.
Admission : £3.50p
Contact : www.bmag.org.uk Tel: 0121-554-3598
Newman Coffin Furniture Works
Renovation is still continuing at the grounds in Fleet St. No inaugural date has been fixed yet.
Contact : http://birminghamconservationtrust.org
The Pen Museum
The museum is a landmark for Birmingham, more particularly for the Quarter, as the center of the World’s Pen Industry for more than a hundred years. Guests will be treated with displays of various pens from past to present. A calligraphy tutoring is also available for those who have a liking in this art of writing. The museum is under the auspices of a charitable trust, the Birmingham Pen Trade Heritage Association.
Location: Unit 3, The Argent Centre, 60 Frederick St, Hockley, Bham B1, 3HS.
Opening Times: Monday to Saturday 11.00am to 4.00pm. Sunday 1.00pm to 4.00pm.
Contact : www.penroom.co.uk; Tel: 0121-236-9834
Jewellery Quarter, with all its richness in history and fascinations, is indeed a place of unlimited revelations. Aside from the ‘must-see’ museums, the Quarter is taking pride from its last remaining Georgian Square of Saint Paul. The Jewellers’ Church inside the square is a serene escape from bustling urban life. Those who like creepy adventures will definitely enjoy exploring ancient catacombs and strolling around old and historic building trails.
2008 St Paul’s Church Grade 1 listed Built 1779 Jewellery Quarter Birmingham
Shopping is another ‘must’ for every visitor of the Quarter with over a hundred retailers specializing in a certain craft. Anyone can ask for a designer jewelry either as a gift or a personal treat. Three of the Quarters’ original jewelry makers : Toye, Spencer and Kening, are even offering to have a particular Factory workshop where they can show-off their industry to visitors.
Other art galleries of the Quarter that charge no admission fee include the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, one of the oldest gallery outside London to have a Royal status and the St Paul’s Gallery at Northwood St., where a huge collection of rock album prints is housed.
Making a Day of It
A planned visit will surely help any guest to get the most of the tour. Normally, the preferred days for a tour is from Tuesday to Saturday since most of the museums, shops and the Information center are closed on Sundays and Mondays.
As a guide, listed below are the Quarters’ attractions with their suggested ‘stay’ time. Those having ‘PB’ mark need to be booked earlier, and usually for big groups. Those having ‘F’ mark are appropriate for family members. Those having ‘S’ mark are open on Sundays with variable opening times.
Walking the Pavement Trails
The Quarter has many secrets ready to be unlocked by anyone who wishes to walk by its famed pavement trails. Some of these trails include the Findings Trail at Newhall and Graham Streets, The Charm Bracelet Trail at Newhall Hill and Frederick Streets. The latter trail was labored by prominent multi-awarded community artists Mick Thacker and Mark Renn whose works can also be seen at Centro Information Points, Warwickshire County Cricket Ground and other places. At the onset of the trail, a padlock is found, obviously, to become a vital part of any magical armlet.
JQB Pavement Traill FA_Cup_was_made_here
Walking the Pavement Trails.
1. The Key – The starting point of the trail.
2. Silent Boots – During the late 19th century, ‘silent boots’ were worn by civilian-clothed men to catch on robbers.
3. Rip Van Winkle – In 1818, Washington Irving stayed in the Quarter at Legge Lane and Frederick St. and wrote one of his classic tales.
4. 1832 : 200,00 Chartists met here – The figure is the estimate number of people gathered in 1832 to fight for parliamentary reforms.
Aston Villa v Newcastle 1905 Cup Final 2-0 Billy Garraty Man of the Match
5. The FA Cup – This prominent piece of utensil was designed and crafted in the Quarter.
6. Whistles for the Titanic – The whistles became prominent after the ill-fated Titanic. They were made by the Quarter’s Hudson Ltd. which until now manufactures the same whistles using the same original tools. The firm also makes the football’s renowned Acme thunderer.
7. Matthew Boulton – The trail was in honor of the prominent businessman of Birmingham.
8. Turkish Baths – Situated just outside the Argent Center, it was once the house of pen maker, W E Miley, who utilized reprocessed steam to run spas and baths.
9. Anchor – It is the well-known symbol of Birmingham’s illustrious Assay Office founded in 1773.
10. His Nibs – It manufactured 75 % of the world’s metal pen nibs, located nearby the pen Factory.
11. The Hockley Flyer – It is the known business magazine of the Quarter which until now run by its editor, the local historian named Marie Haddleton.
12. Shrapnel – A badge making factory besieged by the Germans during WW II.
13. Bits for Spitfires – Makers of commemorative medals and machine parts of Spitfire during and after WW II.
14. School of Jewelry – Celebrates the founding of Birmingham’s world famous School of Jewelry in 1890.
15. Peas Like Emeralds – Vittoria Restaurant was one time the gourmet capital of the Quarter for consecutive years. Located in Frederick St., its opening menu included tiny cut chickens, properly arranged with peas that looked like ‘emeralds’.
16. The Chamberlain Clock – This famous Quarter’s Landmark was built in 1903 to celebrate the struggles of Joseph Chamberlain in other countries.
The Findings Trail was conceptualized by a School of Jewelry graduate, named Laura Potter.
A. Tunnel – Birmingham’s telecommunications system’s center is at Newhall St. which has 5 to 6 miles of undisclosed underground tunnels.
B. Precious Metal Symbols – They are utilized in Hallmarking.
C. Beer Bottle Tops – Legends has it that anchor-symbol of Birmingham’s Assay Office was coined in a bar named Crown and Anchor. After tossing a coin, Birmingham chose Anchor while Sheffield the Crown.
D. Church Symbol – The famous Church of St. Paul enshrined inside Birmingham’s sole surviving Georgian Square.
E. Slippery Road Sign – It is once the place of ‘Russian Mountains’, a roller coaster.
F. Empty Paint Tubes – In Brook St., the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA) established in 1812, is situated.
G. Rubber Teats – There was once a popular roaming site for Victorian babysitters down the Brook Street to St. Paul’s Square, touted as ‘ tittie Bottle Park’.
H. Inkwell – Another known pen nib maker of the Quarter located just outside Baker and Finnemore.
I. Borax – Important to any jeweler, powdered borax are used to make a fluctuating base ready for bonding metals.
J. Casting Tree – Utilized by the craftsmen to create similar objects.
K. Building Bricks – Stands for the century old Birmingham’s School of Jewelry, situated in Vittoria St. L. Flag – Once a famous pen nib maker and known to locals as Flag House and remained an auxiliary of Victoria Works.
M. Signatures – The Victoria Works Factory, owned by Joseph Gillott, achieved the perfect method of mass producing metal pen nibs. General Ulysses Grant once paid a visit to this factory.
Cross – The point where all other pavement trails meet.
Heart – Back to the heart of the city to start the trail again.
N. Running Man – A constant scene in the Square are trade agents running from one place to another.
O. Steel Bangle – It is a sacred sign for the Temple of Sikh Gurdwara. The building has a religious history being formerly dwelled by Elim Tabernacle and the Methodist New Connection, two of the known Congregationalists.
P. Farthings – Observes the Quarter’s ancient Mint.
Q. WMT Buses – Once the place of wealthy optimistic industrialists but later turned into headquarters for Birmingham’s popular navy blue and cream buses.
R. Curb Chain – Commemorates the Quarter’s metal chain making industry.
S. Chocolate Bar – Birmingham is known to have two celebrated bars : Cadbury’s solid chocolate bar and its gold solid bar.
T. Taps – Located nearby Severn Trent’s Jewellry Quarter Office.
U. Bench Peg – It is one of the tools of a jeweler.
V. Plated Sample – It is located adjacent to ancient Elkington building where electroplating was first developed as a technique.
W. Film Projector – Invented by Birmingham’s Elkington factory, celluloid is now widely used in Hollywood.
X. Heart with Canal – Birmingham’s celebrated canals were indispensable to the Quarter’s trade’s mobility.
Y. “ Stamp” Letter – Birmingham’s center of communication is always stationed in Newhall St.
Z. Telephone Receiver – It is the place shaded by Birmingham’s telephone Tower.
Purchasing Jewellery during the visit
2008 Street view No 9 of the Jewellery Quarter Birmingham
⦁ An authenticity mark from the Birmingham Assay is necessary for all silver and gold jewelries, except for small items like earing.
⦁ Ensure the quality in carat of any gold item. The bigger the carat the more gold the item contains.
⦁ For gems, make sure that the receipt contains the gem’s description as to its weight, color, shape and size.
⦁ For made-to-order items such as designer jewelries, provide drawings or pictures to the jeweler.
⦁ Look for other shops in the Quarter that do repairs, resizing or even restoring jewelries to its former glory.
Diamonds – Factors to be considered in buying a diamond: clarity, color and carat weight.
⦁ Cut – A diamond that is well cut radiates the most brilliance. A spherical, well cut diamond will reflect light from all sides and must have between 57 to 58 facets.
⦁ Color – The color grade is ranged from the highest D, colorless to lowest Z, tinted yellow. Extremely rare diamonds, which are called fancies, are strongly colored such as pure blue, yellow, green, pink and orange.
⦁ Clarity – a high quality diamond is supposed to be free of impurities and imperfections that block the rays of light passing through the precious stone. Inclusion is one characteristic diamonds have.
⦁ Carat Weight – A diamond having 50 points, weighs 0.50 carats. Diamond quotation should always be indicated in the sales invoice.
Shopping – Top Tips
⦁ Pure gold is 24 carat and it is too malleable to be crafted with. To add strength, jewelers have to incorporate other metals into it such as copper, silver and palladium. Normally, the grades are 9, 14, 18 and 22 carat, corresponding to gold content percentages: 37.5, 58.5, 75.0, and 91.6.
⦁ Weddings rings usually contain 18 or 22 carat gold.
⦁ More popular gold are called white and rose gold.
⦁ The metal has strength and durability despite being less dense than platinum and having less weight than gold.
⦁ The color is bright blue, needing no plating with rhodium.
⦁ Presently the metal is not subjected to hallmarking but likely to change in the coming years.
⦁ The metal, having 90 % purity, is normally inert and does not change its appearance. It remains white for almost eternity.
⦁ It is much rarer than gold. Its surface can be polished, un-glossed or satin.
⦁ It has hypoallergenic property that is perfect for delicate skin.
⦁ A naturally occurring metal, it has high malleability strength and usually mixed with other metals like Vanadium in the making of rings.
⦁ The metal resists corrosion thus a popular choice in the making of any materials associated with salt water activities.
⦁ The metal is undoubtedly a favorite among jewelers for it caters to the varied tastes and longings of people from different walks of life.
⦁ Jewelries made of silver can be engraved, personalized and made-to-order.
⦁ The metal can be polished into shimmering finish but through time it can turn dull and discolored.
Hallmarking is the process of authenticating the quality and purity of precious metals and gems to pass legal regulations. It started about 700 years ago and Birmingham’s Assay continued to be the authority in jewel quality validations. The Assay’s hallmark symbol is an Anchor. Any purchased jewelry should have on its receipt three marks: the trader’s mark, unique for every trader; the finder’s mark, that specified the carat and the Assay’s anchor mark, assuring its quality.
Valuing Your Jewelry, Silverware Or Watches
There are available legal processes that protect any precious items in possession. One of these securities is the Insurance Replacement Valuation that guarantees the appreciating monetary amount of the precious item. An independent valuation can be handled by the Assay Office but some jewelry shops allow a valuation for free.
Anyone wishes to trade a precious heirloom or any scrap gold for hefty bills is possible with many of the Quarter’s traders. Shopping can be done either by physically walking around or done electronically and get the best deals for both shopping methods. Always be in the lookout for fluctuating gold prices. Daily newspapers carry listings of precious metal prices or if the net is preferred simply search online for a suitable site.
The only valuable metal in ‘scrap’ gold is gold itself. Other mixed metals such as copper or zinc are of no value to traders. It is good to always have a hallmark in the jewelries specially those bought in UK, to avoid unnecessary delays in buy and sell transactions and be able to get the right price. It is also wise to let antique jewelries be valued first by an auctioneer, because more often than not, the scrap value could be lower than the second hand value.
Keeping Things Ticking Over
Glass Face – One main components of the watch is its glass face, which are normally made of sapphire crystal Perspex or plastic, minerals, and mineral with sapphire coatings. The former material is the hardest thus resists wearing, making it the most expensive. Plastics on the other hand are the least expensive.
The winder – Watches have push in crowns, either screw down or screw in. The latter type is more commonly used because it makes watches water resistant.
Movements – Quartz watches have batteries to power their movements. This type of watch has high reliability and almost perfect performance, making it a more preferred watch. Batteries normally last 2 to 3 years. Automatic watches have self-run mechanism triggered by motion. If left unattended, the watch will only run for a day and a half. This kind of watch is favored by watch aficionados who appreciate the ingenuity and meticulous craftsmanship. Watches that are called Kinetic are hybrid of Quartz and Automatic. It generates its own power from the energy of the wearer’s movement. It is as accurate as Quartz and yet does not have battery. A fully charged kinetic watch will run for months even if left unmoved. Lastly, Watches that are Eco-drive are powered by light, natural or artificial. If fully charged, it can run for months even without its light source.
Water resistance – Watches with screw in crown and tagged with 10 bar, 100M, 10ATM are ideal to be worn in water. However, this capability of watches to be water resistant goes with the normal tear and wear. It is wise to periodically check the watches.
Straps and bracelets – Straps are usually made of leather. They can be worn with ease for they are light and adjustable. Bracelets are heavier for they are made of metal, normally stainless steel though titanium, having lighter weight, is becoming popular.
Constantly wind mechanical clocks up to a point where the key resists further turning. When adjusting the time, make sure to turn the hands clockwise never otherwise for it may cause damage to the inside mechanism.