As I was recently wondering around town with some relatives from Australia, we stumbled upon Hatton Garden and I exclaimed “This is something you have to see.”
For we local Brits take for granted that there is one road adorned with Jewellery and Diamonds and it is more Jewish than Stamford Hill or dare I say, Canvey Island!
As you walk through the streets of Hatton Garden, you can feel the yiddishkite, the schmoozing and even Kosher cafes and sandwich bars.
In Hatton Garden alone, which is just a square mile, there are 300 companies and 60 jewellery shops of which 70% are owned by Jews.
Why is Hatton Garden so Jewish? My Reasons:
- Well firstly, you cannot spell Jew-ellery without Jew. Its a natural right of passage to work in the industry!
- Jewish ladies love things that sparkle. Maybe they encouraged their husbands or children to work in the industry so they could get a discount?
My favourite is when a person is in need of diamond or bespoke jewellery, everyone instantly starts to recommend their contact. “No, don’t go to them, go to my guy, he’ll look after you.” These poor diamond jewellers, with all these ‘special prices’ they must probably never sell anything at the right price!!! It makes the jewellery and diamond trade look like it’s more competitive than the payday loans or insurance markets; coincidentally both very Jewish too!
Why Jews are involved in Jewellery and Diamonds – The Real Reasons
After a bit of research, I discovered that the history of Jews and Jewellery dates back to even the 15th Century in mainland Europe. Whilst the church forbade the handling of goods or money, Jews would veer towards money-lending, financial services and of course, the diamond trade.
When the Jews were expelled from Spain and Portugal in 1492 to 1497, many relocated to Belgium, specifically Antwerp which was a crucial port into Europe and already handled around 90% of the uncut diamonds and polishing trade.
In the early 1900’s, there were already about 700 Jewish diamond-cutters in Antwerp, many of whom had only just arrived from Central and Eastern Europe. The influx of rough diamonds from the Belgian colonies in Africa and the solidarity that existed within global Jewish community helped turn Antwerp into the main world center for the diamond industry (Source: Medium)
Hatton Garden’s reputation for diamond dealing came at the end of the 19th century when De Beers chose to sell all its stones through London, creating a culture of related trades that persists to this day. (Source: TheJC)
Until the Second World War, business was conducted on the street, or in one of several kosher cafes. Prices were agreed with a handshake and a cry of ‘Mazel.’ It was only until the 1960s did shops appear.
Elsewhere, in 1929, Harry Oppenheimer of South Africa became the Chairman for De Beers Diamonds where her became the most powerful diamond magnate in the world, selling to America, Europe and donated all diamond raw products from De Beers to Israel to make them a leading diamond polisher and exporter.
Following the Holocaust, those few that survived from Belgium had little or no material, just years of family knowledge and history of the diamond industry, which they were able to continue sharing in the UK and US.
Anyway, I know what I want for my birthday and anniversary! Hint hint husband!
G-d bless you my boobalahs,
The Jewish Mother