History of the Jewellery Quarter

The Jewellery Quarter, known locally as the JQ, is an industrial area of 1.07 square kilometres (264 acres) in the city centre that is home to Europe’s largest concentration of businesses involved in the jewellery trade. The businesses based here, which range from the individual contemporary designer maker to long established manufacturing firms, produce 40% of all the jewellery made in the UK. 

The area was once home to pioneers of the industrial revolution Matthew Boulton and James Watt as well as manufacturers such as Joseph Gillott, whose factory on Frederick Street once produced 90% of all the pens used by American school children in the 19th century and aided the spread of literacy around the world.

Many cities in the UK developed thriving industries making one particular product such as steel or cotton but the variety and inventiveness of Birmingham's manufacturers was unique and earned the city the nickname of 'the city of a thousands trades' and 'the workshop of the world', with the latter later being used to describe the UK as a whole. Two of the 'Big Four' banks in UK, the Midland Bank and Lloyds, were founded in Birmingham in this period to provide finance to the city's industry. 

The original FA Cup, boxing's Lonsdale Belt, the London 2012 Olympic torch badges, the first steam engines and the Titanic's whistles were all made in the Jewellery Quarter and even today the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race medals, the Premier League Golden Boot awards, the cutlery at the Ritz, OBEs, CBEs, military medals and every single Aston Martin badge are still made in the JQ.

Today the area is a thriving creative destination where the factories of long established brands rub shoulders with the workshops of contemporary designer makers, artists' studios and galleries as well as a growing number of bars, restaurants, cafes and residents.

The JQ continues to attract jewellery entrepreneurs looking to take advantage of the extensive creative ecosystem, find the right people with highly specialised skills that have simply vanished elsewhere and become part of a collaborative and creative community with a long history of innovation and design excellence. 

We want to work with smaller businesses to create a window onto the quarter and the people who work here. At the heart of our project is telling the stories of the Jewellery Quarter and what makes the area a creative and historic destination that's unique. Every business has a story to tell, and this is where we want to tell it. If you are a jewellery business based in the JQ we'd love to hear from you and would welcome you to the site.

If you're a visitor to the site looking for something for yourself or a gift for a loved one, we hope that you discover more about the Jewellery Quarter and enjoy a far more intimate online shopping experience as you get to know the people who will have hand made your purchase for you. 

Much like the quarter itself, it is our hope that our website constantly evolves to showcase more of the Jewellery Quarter community as well as the history, architecture, museums, artists, bars, restaurants, cafes, clubs, parks, places to see and things to do in the JQ. 

Top