What was once the most-highly concentrated area of businesses involved in the jewellery trade in Europe, Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter has become a growing and creative neighbourhood. Jewellery continues to be made in the area however there are plenty of things to see, do and eat during a day visit to the Jewellery Quarter besides leaving with a pair of new earrings.
1. Wander around St Paul’s Square
This quaint square hidden away in the centre of Birmingham is a great place to stretch your legs in between those stops for food and drink or visits to galleries and museums. The square is lined with beautiful Georgian houses as well as the gorgeous St Paul’s Church, known pretty well in the city for its iconic spire.
2. Sip a pint or two in a beer garden
A classy outfit mixing the pub big hitters and millennial trends. For every avocado on sourdough, there’s a beer-battered cod and chips. For each flat white beer (a white breakfast stout, apparently!) there’s a trusty Guinness. It’s the everyman pub, where bearded hipsters and Villa-loving families can harmoniously glide along together. The Clifden resides in the Jewellery Quarter and hires local DJs to their warm abode in winter and their leafy beer garden, decked in lights, during the summer.
3. Get a proper eyeful of colour
You’re never too far from art in this area of Brum whether it’s street art, gallery exhibitions or jewellery making. Next to the Jewellery Quarter station, you’ll find one of Banksy’s pieces of artwork named Ryan and His Reindeer next to a bench. If you’re in search of more culture, there’s St Paul’s Gallery which showcases album covers, posters and portraits from musicians, including ones from Black Sabbath and David Bowie, with modern art prints and originals. There is also the RBSA gallery located in a converted warehouse featuring arts and crafts on multiple floors.
4. Tuck into a Michelin-star meal
Opheem is the only Indian restaurant in Birmingham with a Michelin star, and it’s well deserved. It is owned by chef Aktar Islam who is an Aston native. The restaurant uses exciting methods to create its dishes, grinding down fresh spices and some of the recipes are modelled on the chef’s mother’s recipes. You can expect to eat food from all across India, Pakistan, Persia, Bangladesh, Turkey and Afghanistan. Any Indian restaurant is likely to feature dishes from across Asia, but here the origins of the dish are clearly stated in its name, which makes for an interesting and intriguing experience.
5. Discover the Jewellery Quarter’s history
Visit the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, which was built around the perfectly preserved Smith & Pepper jewellery factory. When the proprietors retired in 1981 they simply stopped trading and locked the door, unaware they would be leaving a time capsule for future generations. You can enjoy tours of the offices, the engravers bench, the jewellers’ 12 seater bench, the workshop, as well as discover a vast array of original tools, stamps and machinery that would’ve been used inside the factory. You may even be able to watch a demonstration of jewellery manufacturing techniques whilst you’re there too.
6. Take a stroll around the cemeteries
Ok, so hear us out. The cemeteries in this part of Birmingham aren’t all doom and gloom or as spooky as they may seem. In the Jewellery Quarter, there are multiple cemeteries to visit that are surprisingly picturesque to stroll around, especially in autumn when there is a blanket of orange-hued leaves on the cemetery paths or in spring when the flowers start to bloom. There is Key Hill Cemetery in the north of the area as well as Brookfields Cemetery, also known as Warstone Lane Cemetery. The latter features gothic architecture and well preserved catacombs.
7. Witness epic views of Birmingham from above
The Big Peg may offer flexible working and office space but it also offers amazing views of the city. Many years ago jewellery craftsmen often had to share their workspace and their working space was known as a ‘peg’ hence this influenced the construction of the Big Peg during the 1960s. If you’re visiting the gallery here or lucky to have a work space here then head up to the roof of this building as the sun is setting and look over at this beautiful city.
8. Munch down on an epic brunch at Urban
At Urban, a colourful, trend-inspired breakfast is up for grabs. Tuck into the avocado, edamame and chilli smash, with optional additions including grilled halloumi and smoked tofu. If that’s not your bag, there’s cheap and cheerful peanut butter and banana on sourdough, as well as full English options fit for champions. Get down to this Brummie spot for a slap-up brunch extravaganza — and throw in bottomless Bucks Fizz and Bloody Marys.
9. Drool over delicious handmade chocolates
The Chocolate Quarter creates beautiful artisan chocolates that can be picked up from their Jewellery Quarter shop or ordered online. The chocolates come in all shapes, sizes and colours, and would be a beautiful surprise for someone special or yourself. Choose from truffles and chocolate boxes, or opt for something a little more creative such as their whisky, rum and bacon truffle bar box, plus their intriguing chocolate truffle flavours. They also have chocolates which are free from dairy, gluten and alcohol as well as host chocolate workshops and masterclasses.
10. Enjoy top notch tacos and refreshing frozen margaritas
The Jewellery Quarter has got itself a diamond on the block in the form of tacos- and we’re not mad about it. Frankly, we’re pretty chuffed. Taking the humble Mexican street food dish to new and exciting heights, Tierra Tacos arrived in the JQ in Summer 2021 and boy are the tacos good. Tierra Tacos specialises in “fresh hand-pressed corn tortillas topped with vibrant and tasty toppings with a selection of traditional sides and less-traditional small plates”, which are accompanied by local and Mexican beers, natural wine, mezcal and agave cocktails like frozen margaritas.
11. Learn about another trade in the Jewellery Quarter
Discover the shelves and workbenches at the Newman Brothers’ Coffin Works, which are full of original stock and tools of the Birmingham-based trade. With the original machinery working again, you can truly experience how this old Jewellery Quarter firm once operated on a day-to-day basis, producing some of the world’s finest coffin furniture, including the fittings for the funerals of Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother. But don’t worry there won’t be any dead bodies in these coffins. Phew!
12. Put your feet up in this boutique hotel serving incredible cocktails
The bar at Saint Paul’s is beautiful and their cocktails themselves are also really pretty. There is an elegance to the place—which also serves as a hotel—and they serve a variety of cocktails. They even have a Birmingham themed cocktail, inspired by and named Bournville, which includes vodka, pistachio and chocolate syrup, orange juice and Baileys. Admittedly, that combination might not be for everyone, but you can’t know until you’ve tried it!