Visiting Hatton Garden: What to Expect?
London's Diamond District
London is one of the World’s diamond capitals and the Hatton Garden district has been its centre for well over 100 years. It is estimated that one in three UK engagements are sealed with a ring purchased in the area. While its dealers, merchants, wholesalers and retailers conduct over a billion pounds of business annually, despite its size and relative importance as a diamond and jewellery centre, Hatton Garden, for many, remains a best kept secret for significant jewellery purchases.
Known locally as ‘The Garden’ and brought to the fore by the recent and well publicised safe deposit heist, Hatton Garden is home to around 70 jewellery stores and a further 300 allied trades and jewellery related businesses. The range and choice of diamonds and fine jewellery on offer is staggering but Hatton Garden can seem somewhat overwhelming on first encounter. To the uniformed, diamonds and engagement rings may appear somewhat commoditised, however, gem quality, purchasing advice, workmanship and prices vary tremendously from one store to the next.
Independent and Affordable
Hatton Garden’s jewellery stores are all independently owned. There are no high street names and no international brands; they’d simply be unable to compete. Devoid of the brand premiums, advertising budgets and West End rents, shoppers budgets stretch further here. Assuming your ok ditching the brand name, purchase direct from one of Hatton Garden’s manufacturing jewellers and you’ll expect to pay about half that of a like-for-like engagement ring bought from a branded jeweller.
Planning Your Visit
Buying diamonds, an engagement ring or wedding bands is not something done every day, so best advice is to conduct a little research and planning ahead of visiting Hatton Garden. An appreciation of the factors to consider when making a diamond selection and shortlisting the right shops to visit can make the difference between something exceptional to be treasured forever and something uninspiring, mass-produced and ubiquitous.
When visiting Hatton Garden, plan to spend a good amount of time in the area. The cost and significance of purchasing diamonds warrants suitable consideration. It generally takes an hour to make an informed purchase selection on an engagement ring. As a hugely popular destination for jewellery purchases, calling ahead to book an appointment, especially on busy weekends and at popular shops, can often be the difference between a hurried chat or an in-depth consultation.
While most retailers do accommodate walk-in enquiries, others prioritise booked appointments. Also, if you are after a very specific diamond or are looking for a bespoke commission, where a selection of stones may need to be sourced, booking a consultation will be essential.
Hatton Garden’s retailers open Monday to Saturday, with a few also trading on Sunday. While opening times vary from store to store, typical hours are between 10am and 5:30pm. Located on the City fringes, Hatton Garden is about a minutes walk from Farringdon Tube (Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines) and five minutes from Chancery Lane (Central Line).
Travelling by car, there is an NCP carpark on nearby Cross Street and a small carpark on Hatton Garden. There is plenty of of metered on-street parking on Hatton Garden and surrounding Greville Street and Kirby Street, though be warned, parking wardens are vicious, ruthlessly efficient and take no prisoners, though they do bugger of at 1:30pm on a Saturday!