The site we now know as Hatton Garden was once the Ely estate, an area of land owned by the aristocratic Hatton family. Prompted by the rapid growth of London’s population, the Hattons began to build houses on their estate during the 1600s, lining a road initially named Hatton Street. Following the death of the last direct Hatton descendant in 1760 the estate was sold off and many new houses were built for wealthy merchants in a grid-like formation named Hatton Garden.
A custom that harks back to Medieval England, urban businesses and tradespeople would often cluster with their peers in particular neighbourhoods for the sake of easing production, trade and transportation. The late 1700s saw Hatton Garden inundated with esteemed jewellery experts and skilled artisans from Clerkenwell Green, a nearby middle-class neighbourhood characterised by a high concentration of clockmakers, watchmakers, jewellers and goldsmiths. Naturally, the presence of these people and their knowledge began to attract wholesale dealers of diamonds and other gemstones.
Though many of London’s original trade districts have now been diluted by development and industry failure, Hatton Garden remains steadfast at the heart of London’s jewellery trade. Now home to over 70 jewellery shops and more than 300 jewellery-based businesses – from boutiques to the Assay Office, manufacturing workshops and independent valuers – it’s recognised far and wide as London’s jewellery capital.
From the 15th century onwards, Antwerp served as the world’s main diamond trading hub, housing several prevalent trade organisations. When Antwerp became occupied by the Nazis in 1940, however, established Belgian diamond merchants were amongst the refugees who fled Belgium and made tracks for the UK. In some cases, they managed to transport their own stock with them, smuggling diamonds across borders by sewing them into the linings of their garments.
When the traders began buying and selling in the street, Mrs. Cohen – an enterprising woman who ran a café on the junction of Hatton Garden and Greville Street – invited them in. Before long the London Diamond Bourse was established, not in the form of the large, lavish building perhaps conjured up by our mind’s eye, but as a cramped assembly of tables at the back of Mrs. Cohen’s café. The bourse began to welcome a steady influx of members, many of whom were survivors of the European Nazi occupation and concentration camps. Having lost all of their possessions and missed their education, lots of these newcomers started out as diamond brokers with the help of those already established as dealers. A Committee and President (the Late Max Lack, who remained in office until he became Honorary Life President in 1982) were elected, and in spite of the primitive conditions, the organisation worked with remarkable success.
By the mid 1950s, the London Diamond Bourse had outgrown Mrs. Cohen’s Café and relocated temporarily to the ground floor of 57 Hatton Garden, then to a newly erected 32 Hatton Garden a few years later, where it occupied the entire first floor. Finally, the London Diamond Bourse had achieved ‘worthy establishment’ status, which gave way to two decades of prosperous trading and a membership count of over 700 people from 1960 onwards. By the late 1980s even its once spacious first-floor premises proved too small, so when a large new building was planned at 100 Hatton Garden – where space for many diamond offices and a safe deposit unit in the basement was promised – a move was approved.
Today, with its membership continuing to increase and diversify, the London Diamond Bourse is recognised globally as a forerunning trading floor for professionals from all walks of the jewellery industry – from diamond traders to manufacturers, wholesalers and designer brands like us.
We’re available by appointment in the bourse’s newly renovated private consultation suites every Wednesday; an opportunity for you to immerse yourself in the intriguing world of British jewellery, view our sample engagement rings and wedding bands, get measured up for size and ask us all your burning questions just a stone’s throw from the small family-run manufacturing workshops where your special jewel will be crafted into fruition.
‘Forever’ jewellery is more than just metal and gemstones. It’s the gift of commitment from one human being to another, the celebration of a once-in-a-lifetime milestone, the cementation of a moment in time. The opportunity to pick out a symbolic piece of heirloom jewellery doesn’t come round very often, so it’s important to us that your experience with Lebrusan Studio is one that stays with you for all the right reasons. An iconic staple of UK jewellery history, the London Diamond Bourse is somewhere we’re very proud to invite you to make your all important decisions.