The Jewellery Quarter is Europe’s largest concentration of businesses involved in the jewellery trade and produces 40% of all the jewellery made in the UK. It is also home to the world’s largest Assay Office, which hallmarks around 12 million items a year.
The land now known as the Jewellery Quarter, was formerly farmland owned by Birmingham’s famous Colmore Family and was released by them in 1746 to help satisfy the demands of the growing population in the area.
St Paul’s Church was designed by Roger Elkyn in 1777 and completed in 1779. The spire was added in 1823 and although the building suffered bomb damage in World War Two, it was repaired in 1949.
The famous Birmingham and Fazeley Canal was constructed through the south of the area and was completed in 1789, providing a better form of transportation for goods manufactured in the area and the delivery of materials to the area. The construction of this canal boosted local trade and manufacturing activities.
Historically, the Jewellery Quarter has been the birthplace of many pioneering advancements in industrial technology. George Elkington is credited for the development of electroplating in 1840 in his silver works on Newhall Street and also invented in the Jewellery Quarter, was the first man-made plastic, Parkesine, by Alexander Parkes in 1862.
In recent years, many conservation initiatives have been put into place to protect the significant cultural heritage of the area. English Heritage’s successful recommendation for statutory listing on 106 buildings in the Jewellery Quarter is one of the initiatives that has been put into effect. There was also a bid to make the Jewellery Quarter a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) World Heritage Site. In 2015, the JQTH (Jewellery Quarter Townscape Heritage) was awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to be given to owners of buildings of historical importance to pay for restoration works. JQBID (Jewellery Quarter Business Improvement District) is a fund that was set up by local businesses to pool together resources to fund improvements to the area which will benefit everyone living and working in the area.