Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter is awash with history, having been at the centre of the UK’s jewellery trade for much of the 19th century, and great pains have been made in recent years to preserve the area’s extensive past. The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter in Vyse Street is one such example – a former jewellery manufacturing firm known as Smith and Pepper, it has since been transformed into a museum that gives an informative outline of the area and its sparkling history.
As with the JW Evans site only a few streets over, there’s a definite sense of stepping into the undisturbed past. Parts of the building have been left untouched since it closed in the early 1980s (complete with dirty coffee mugs scattered about), and your tour guide will most likely pick up some tools and give you a demonstration on the jeweller’s bench.
There’s also a free gallery that showcases jewellery using materials found in the natural world, and don’t miss out on the museum shop either, which gives a taste of Birmingham’s talented modern-day designers by offering some of their delicate jewellery for sale. In fact, it’s worth taking a walk around the area after your museum visit, as some of the finest craftspeople in the country still work there today.