We visit the Birmingham district named one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the UK by The Telegraph

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We paid a visit to the Birmingham suburb that’s been voted one of the UK’s coolest places by the national press

The Telegraph has named Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter as one of the top 15 coolest neighbourhood’s in the UK.

The newspaper’s ranking analysed neighbourhoods across the UK to produce a definitive list of the cooles urban areas. The list includes neighbourhoods in many of the UK’s major cities including London, Manchester, Liverpool Glasgow, Leeds as well as Birmingham.

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It was based on nominations by city locals representing all four UK nations, along with the best places within them to eat, drink, shop and stay for 2024.

It’s brilliant for Birmingham to see the Jewellery Quarter being named in the list. The neighbourhood has long been viewed as a vibrant place in the city to live, and is popular among young professionals.

Of course, the area is also steeped in history having also been called a “national treasure” by Historic England. It’s Europe's largest concentration of businesses involved in the jewellery trade and produces 40% of all the jewellery made in the UK.

But what makes it the city’s coolest neighbourhood? I paid a visit to the JQ one afternoon earlier this month (May) to find out for myself.

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I mentioned that the neighbourhood produces 40% of all the jewellery made in the UK - a crazy statistic. And it’s quite incredible just how many jewellers are located in the area.

Jewellery QuarterJewellery Quarter
Jewellery Quarter | BW

Walking into the district from the train station, it feels like there are hundreds of the them, and well, that’s because there are. The neighbourhood is home to over 700 jewellers and independent retailers.

I popped into the independent Astella jewellers to get an idea of what it’s like to compete with hundreds of other similar shops.

Sunny, who runs the business told me: “I opened this four years ago. I’ve always worked in the Jewellery Quarter so wanted to open a business here. It’s always quite busy around here and a lot of people come here for value for money.”

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This particular business focuses of wedding rings and engagement rings and all of the rings are made in-house, with the rings getting made within two to three weeks after order. “A lot of places it takes four to six weeks so we can do it a lot quicker which is a bit of a unique selling point for us.”

Does he feel a sense of competition with other businesses?

He said: “There’s a lot competition here because everyone is kind of selling similar products. It all just comes down to the price and how well your interaction is and how the service is. I think all of that adds up.”

Sunny from Astella JewellerySunny from Astella Jewellery
Sunny from Astella Jewellery | BW

When I mentioned the JQ was named the city’s coolest place, Sunny said: “I like it. There’s a lot of nice restaurants and bars. You’ve got St Paul’s Square which is quite nice and there are a lot of new apartments here.”

He added: I”t’s also pretty close to the city centre. It’s nice being able to have that little break from the city centre without being too far away from it.” Sunny said he’d like more events to take place in the neighbourhood to promote the area.

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“These days, I don’t feel like too many people are actually aware of the Jewellery Quarter. I feel like the older generation are more aware of it, whereas the younger generation don’t know what it is. So some more special events where the Square is.”

Next, I wanted to experience a bit of the neighbourhoods food and drink scene. There’s plenty of great bars and restaurants around, including the likes of 1000 Trades, Otto Pizza, the Woodman, the Actress and Bishop and the Button Factory. The Rolling Mill on Hall Street is also one of the neighbourhood’s most popular bars. There’s a bit of everything at the Mill: an extensive food menu serving British and European classics as well as a cracking Sunday Roast, live sport for the big games - it’s guaranteed to be popular during the Euros in a few weeks - and its own range of interactive activities, including darts.

The 'coolest' neighbourhood in BirminghamThe 'coolest' neighbourhood in Birmingham
The 'coolest' neighbourhood in Birmingham | BW

There are also two bars, and a private internal terrace. It’s certainly a great place to go for a few drinks with friends, and the stylish decor is pretty impressive too.

I spoke to Arjun, who is the venue’s branch manager. He said: “It helps being in this spot in the Jewellery Quarter as we get people from all walks of life here. I’m a little bit biased as I live in the Jewellery Quarter myself.

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“It's amazing how supportive everyone is – a breath of fresh air compared to the usual business rivalries. We all chip in, promote each other's businesses (where we can), and celebrate each other's successes.

“I don’t think I've ever been inside of a business within a community, that’s been so open to getting to know their neighbours.”

He added: “The nightlife here is growing more every year. For us we have to consider keeping up with the times, having been here for almost three years now. We up our game every year now. A perfect example of this is having our interactive darts installed in the sports bar, which is getting popular.”

Arjun, The Rolling Mill branch managerArjun, The Rolling Mill branch manager
Arjun, The Rolling Mill branch manager | Birmingham World

He added that the vibe and atmosphere is the best thing about the neighbourhood. “During spring/summer, it’s a bit more relaxed. However, during our busy periods we are exactly the type of place you want to be.”

What would he like to see change about the neighbourhood?

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Arjun told me: "Anywhere you go, there will always be crime and unfortunately Jewellery Quarter is no different.. especially when it comes to cars for some reason.”

After our chat, I had walk into St Paul’s Square where there’s plenty of stunning Georgian architecture on show. Despite the area being uniquely dominated by jewellers, the range of nice bistros and buzzing bars have really helped to make the neighbourhood one of the best places to live for youngsters and students.

There’s also a range of nice cafes incluidng Coffee Tales on Warstone Lane where I had a quick coffee and cake before setting off home.

The Jewellery Quarter is home to plenty of brilliant independent venues, much like Stirchley and Moseley, but I think what makes the Jewellery Quarter so popular is its prime location close to the city centre along with its up-and-coming nightlife.

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