Known as the historical jewellery quarter of London, Hatton Garden has a rich tradition of jewellery design and manufacture and diamond dealing, but is it still considered the best place to buy an engagement ring?
The answer to this depends on what you're looking for. It is certainly still a thriving centre to the jewellery trade, with a host of polishers, setters, platers and gemstone dealers squirrelled away in the network of small workshops and offices lining the upper levels of the main strip, Hatton Garden itself. Originally spilling out from nearby Clerkenwell, the original hub of jewellery manufacture and trade, the main street is now lined with what appears to be a very same-y collection of shops selling very similar designs. Similar to New York's Diamond District - without the salespeople standing on the pavement trying to entice you in - the general atmosphere is relatively uninspiring, and perhaps not the ultimate exciting engagement ring shopping experience many people had hoped for.
The multitude of shops also leads to overwhelm - without a recommendation it's hard to decipher any meaningful difference between the brightly lit, packed display cabinets in the windows and to know which one is best, an experience that leaves many couples walking around aimlessly and then either finally buying something in an exhausted panic or leaving empty handed.
If I'm honest, I never recommend Hatton Garden as the best place to start your research when looking for an engagement ring. However, if you are going to visit, the key to getting the most from your trip is to know where to look; as with most high value, important shopping experiences, a recommendation or insider knowledge is a huge help. There are definitely a few lovely, family run businesses nestled amongst the same-ness (get in touch if you'd like some names), and some excellent designers are still local, if not situated directly on Hatton Garden itself. Secondly, if you're after something simple, off-the-shelf and traditional, then it's a great place to start your research with one of the many family run jewellers who have been in the same location for decades. There are also plenty of reputable antique and vintage jewellery dealers, with treasure troves of sparkling jewels lining the windows and tempting you inside.
My advice to anyone looking for an engagement ring in any circumstances is to keep your cool, and try on as much as possible - unless you're planning a surprise proposal - and Hatton Garden does lend itself well to browsing and trying on slightly differing takes on traditional styles, particularly vintage and antique jewellery, but you have to stay strong to the pressure. Sales pressure can be uncomfortable, and is commonplace when shopping here, particularly with competition so high, so expect instant discounts and 'special offers' if you agree to the sale there and then. Feel confident to just say thank you and walk out until you feel you've gained enough research and information on what you're looking for.
However, the reality is that Hatton Garden is not the jewellery design Mecca that it is sometimes reported to be, and if you're looking for a unique engagement ring or commitment ring, you're unlikely to easily be able to find it in any of the shop windows.
My belief still stands that when buying an engagement ring bespoke is usually best, and the experience of designing and choosing each element of your ring personally is a truly exciting one, resulting in unbeatable value.
If you'd like some personalised tips on where to visit in Hatton Garden to make the most out of your day, just get in touch and I'll send you some of my recommendations and ideas.