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Insider: Hatton Garden: Behind the scenes of London's declining diamond district

Holt learned the trade at the same workshop that made the Queen's engagement ring, and remembers when she came in to look at it...
By Melissa Ban
1 min read
Insider: Hatton Garden: Behind the scenes of London's declining diamond district - Holts Gems

Hatton Garden, renowned for its rich history as a hub of the global diamond trade, faces mounting challenges threatening its existence. Amidst escalating rents and dwindling profit margins, the iconic street and its businesses confront an uncertain future.

The surge in online jewellery shopping presents a formidable competition, as consumers increasingly seek better deals and convenience elsewhere. Platforms offer substantial discounts, rendering traditional high street prices less appealing.

Simultaneously, developers are eyeing Hatton Garden's prime Central London location for lucrative ventures, including office spaces and luxury residential developments.

Business Insider delves behind the scenes to uncover the intricate dynamics shaping the fate of this historic district.

The decline of Hatton Garden poses a significant risk of losing the rich tapestry of history, craftsmanship, and memorable personalities that have defined this iconic street. One such remarkable figure is Robert Holt, whose journey from fleeing Nazi Austria to establishing himself in London embodies the resilience and spirit of the district.

Robert Holt, now running Holt's Jewellery on Hatton Garden, has been a cornerstone of the community. His commitment to preserving traditional craftsmanship is evident in his apprenticeship scheme for gem cutters and crafters, operating from the basement of his shop.

While the jewels in the shops may transition to online platforms, the intangible treasures of anecdotes and history face the peril of fading into obscurity. It's imperative to recognise and safeguard the unique essence of Hatton Garden, ensuring that its heritage continues to thrive amidst the challenges of modernisation.

"Holt learned the trade at the same workshop that made the Queen's engagement ring, and remembers when she came in to look at it. The gem business has taken him all over the world and has some great stories. He managed to escape imprisonment in Sierra Leone in 1985 while on a mission to teach villagers how to cut gems. He jumped out of a first-floor window and stuffed his bed with pillows so the guards would think he was sleeping."

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