"What's Hatton Garden?" I've heard that plenty of times over the years and it still surprises me. I'm not sure exactly why that is. Perhaps it's because I've been walking the streets around here for over twenty four years or maybe it's because I've just come to know it as my second home and I expect others to know it as well as I do, that it still surprises me. It's like asking someone what Covent Garden is or even Camden Town. We both know they are synonymous for their own happenings and it's the same for Hatton Garden. The only difference is, that unless you are looking for an engagement ring or a piece of jewellery, you probably wouldn't have been to Hatton Garden. You see "The Garden" as it's known to us who work there, is the diamond centre of London. It's the only place in the UK which houses a live diamond trading floor, otherwise known as the London Diamond Bourse.
There are over 87 different independent jewellery retailers. Yup over eighty seven! It's quite astonishing really and it can be quite overwhelming for first time visitors, and possibly intimidating too. The only other comparison in my mind is the Diamond District in New York. I know there are others around the world, but these two are my favourite. They have the history. They have the allure. And they have a certain type of mystique. We've all heard of and know what happens in London's famous Bond Street. It's a mix of high end designer fashion brands at the Oxford Street end of the road, and as you you get towards the middle and head down towards Piccadilly you will see shop after shop filled with large, bright, twinkly diamonds that only the fabulously wealthy people can afford. The likes of Cartier, DeBeers and Asprey are well established and very well apart of the Bond Street historical architecture.
Just a couple of miles down the road, across town and towards Holborn, lies the historic London jewellery quarter that is Hatton Garden. I suppose in my mind there are three tiers of jewellery stores worldwide. There is the uber elite Bond Street equivalent, then we have the small independents selling mid range diamond jewellery, some of which is bespoke, such as Hatton Garden. And lastly there are the multiples which appear on most High Streets. They tend to run the lower end goods and knock out quantity over quality and it's all about turnover for them. As you turn into The Garden from Holborn Circus, you will see these little jewels in the shop windows winking at you and beckoning you to come closer and see what's on offer, and of course running perpendicular to Hatton Garden we have Greville Street, also a side to side spectacle of jewellery shops.
So here is the scenario. You've just got engaged. You've now looked up or been told that Hatton Garden is "the" place to go to find your dream ring, but you get there and you choke, the occasion overwhelms you and you panic. What do you do and more importantly how do you decide who to go and see? Well the answer to this is pretty simple, but only because I've been there for many years and been asked these questions many times. For what it's worth, here's my advice. In my view, like all things in life, it's all down to personal taste. There are after all eighty seven retailers and that's not including the people who work out of offices. The reason they all manage to do well is because from the outside they all look different. They all have different styles and they all have something very distinguishable about them. Just like we all have different styles and tastes. You might prefer a shop with a blue door whilst I prefer red. You may prefer a curved shop front whilst I prefer an arcade style frontage.
My first suggestion is to walk up and down at least once without actually going into any of the shops and trying anything on. Just window shop. This will help calm your nerves and it will prevent the emotions and the moment getting the better of you. Make notes of the shops you like and the ones you have seen a ring in that you may want to try on. Once done, go round again and this time go into these shops, ask the sales assistant if you can try on the rings you like. Just like most things in life, when buying something of this importance it's vital that you are happy and confident in not only the product, but also that there is trust in the person you are buying from. There is no harm in asking the sales assistant to give you a note of the ring you've tried on and then giving you twenty four hours to make a decision. It's the nature of their business and a lot of people do that. Take your time and don't rush it. This is after all possibly the most expensive purchase you are going to make to date.
Aside from the independent retailers in The Garden, there are also people like me, and the way I describe myself is that I have an online presence yet I don't sell online. My only means of advertising is by word of mouth. I don't have the overheads of a retailer, all my pieces are made bespoke, and you, the client, get exactly what you want every time. I work on an appointment only basis and it's a very personal service. There are other online retailers who are based in The Garden and some do and some don't offer an appointment service. Do your homework and enjoy this period of the engagement. Don't feel pressured into picking a ring on day one. I once had a guy come to me with a scrap book of images he'd printed off of the Internet with a list of about twenty questions he wanted answering before he would part with any money. The end result was that he, his wife, and his two daughters have now been clients for the last eleven years and will continue to come back when the occasion dictates. Why? Because I spent the time with him, earned his trust and I gave him the education which enabled him to make a knowledgable purchase. And I love that about my clients.
Of course there is also the online purchasing of an engagement ring. Some online retailers are based in The Garden too. Some you can and some you can't make an appointment with and with them it's all about having their diamonds cheaper than everyone else. And yes they are able to achieve this like for like, however to people in the know, like myself, there is a huge difference and the diamonds aren't really like for like. I'm still astonished when people are prepared to pay thousands of pounds for a diamond without seeing it just because it seems cheaper online. The truth is there is a reason it's cheaper online and this is the reason you need to see your diamond before you purchase it. You need to see the twinkle, the life, the scintillation in a diamond and truly fall in love with it before you purchase.
If you want to see more on this topic, then have a look at the YouTube video I made on this. Here is my Video to Getting the Best from your Hatton Garden experience.
So as you can see in this short overview of The Garden, it really is a most fascinating place and not as intimidating as you might first come to expect. The occasion for heading down the famous street is a happy and exciting one and one which will remain in your memory forever. The journey you take in finding your perfect token of love will be told down the years with your ring remaining in the family forever. After all, we never really own a diamond, we merely look after it for the next generation. Enjoy the moment!
If you would like an appointment, then please do call for a free consultation in our central London Hatton Garden office and we would be glad to try and help you. Our details are on the main page of the Lewis Malka London website.
Lewis Malka is a recognised expert in making diamond rings as well as being a famous jeweller to the stars. All his blogs are his own opinions. He is a member of the London Diamond Bourse (LDB) and is currently the Chairman of the Young Persons Committee within the Diamond Bourse. You can follow him daily on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you would like any bespoke jewellery made, then please visit his website.