Journey into the gemstone trade: The infamous Hatton Garden

The infamous Hatton Garden, a bustling little jewellery hub and the epicentre of London’s jewellery trade. Numerous hidden workshops with a constant ferrying of stones up and down the street, all headed to different locations. If you look carefully you may even spot a deal going on outside.

The sense of community amongst the trade located in Hatton Garden is something only the generations of business, and fast friendships can allow for. Only after having been welcomed into G.F. Williams and co. have I truly discovered what goes on behind the scenes of this iconic area.

I’ve found it amusing to learn how the diamond dealers love to strike a deal, and have a seemingly insatiable love of hard bargaining… There is of course an etiquette to this that only years in the trade can prepare you for.

My journey into the gemstone trade is at a relatively early stage, but I have just about learnt the basic skills. Counting gemstones in a way that prevents you losing count if the phone goes or something in the office distracts you. Learning where everything can be found so that they can be located at speed when a client calls for an order. Perfecting the art of matching stones takes some time to master, especially with the different lights of day.

One point of great interest is always when we get sent new stones, and the process of testing these. The first port of call is the polariscope, then we use the spectroscope and a refractometer. This degree of testing is always important, part of my role is understanding what we are dealing with, so that we are able to educate our buyers on any information they might need.

Before working in the gemstone had little understanding the limitations of coloured gemstones. I, not unlike many others, was unaware that there are great challenges in sourcing exact stones. They are not like diamonds, you can not have them in any colour, shape and size at the drop of a hat. There is no grading system for coloured gemstones like with diamonds. Sometimes it can take weeks, months to find the perfect stone for clients. Something that makes it all the more satisfying when we do find it.

Being in the gemstone trade is an endless learning experience for me. I work alongside people who have been in the industry for over 40 years, and whose knowledge is incomparable. I love hearing how gemstone treatments have changed over the years and how to spot them. For example tourmaline, which used to be radiated to give neon pink, whereas now most are just heated to give a slight tint.

Every day i’m receiving new snippets of information about the industry, i.e. the trade name for yellow sapphire is French lemon, which came about due to its popularity in France. I’m discovering how prices constantly change due to the rarity of stones, and seeing them drop if there is a new source discovered, like with Peridot. Each day i’m learning and developing my understanding about this mysterious industry, which i’m sure will continue…

This blog was written by Lucy from G.F. Williams & Co. If you’d like to get in touch with Lucy or another member of the team to discuss any gemstone requirements you may have please call +44 (0)207 405 5477, or email