Why Brum is at the centre of the jewellery making universe; Jeweller Christine Davies moved from her home in Ireland to Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter to perfect her craft. She tells FIONNUALA BOURKE how she is able to entirely create her silverware using historic facilities within a few metres of her workshop.
She won the Goldsmiths precious metal bursary in 2011, and the British Jewellers Association Baxendale Award in 2009.
And she has just completed her first year at a workshop in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter, part funded by the European Development Fund and Birmingham City Council.
"There's nowhere in the world like the Jewellery Quarter. I can't see myself living anywhere else. Everything I need is right here on my doorstep," Christine told the Sunday Mercury.
"If my saw blades break, and if I'm having a bad day I can go through quite a few, I can go out and get replacements immediately. If you have to wait weeks, it can cost you. My silver caster is around the corner and I can buy polished gems here as well.
"It's all based around a small triangle. I couldn't believe how great the facilities were when I first moved here four years ago."
Christine's striking linear-style designs are also influenced by her new home city.
"It was during the second year of my degree that I came up with the concept for my designs," she said.
"Birmingham was undergoing a lot of redevelopment at the time and I was struck by the crisscross of lines that was formed by scaffolding and other elements that was aiding the reconstruction of the city. "It was the skeletal structures from this work that inspired me. I like pattern and repetition.
"I try to translate the geometry and interplay of lines from these structures when creating my pieces."
Challenge Starting up a new business in the current economic climate is a challenge for anyone.
To help her get her company up and running, Christine has been helped by a business mentor and a jewellery mentor.
She has also had 15 hours of free tuition from the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre.
She is about to become an artist in residence at the School of Jewellery where she will be allowed access to a workshop in return for lecturing once a week.
But although the economic climate may have its ups and downs the methods for creating jewellery have remained constant throughout time.
"The Jewellery Quarter Museum has a jewellers bench from 1899, and you can see how jewellery was made at that time," said Christine.
"But many of the Jewellery School students smile when they see it, as the methods really haven't changed. We're still essentially using the same techniques.
"They could bring visitors into any of the workshops that are currently operating around the Jewellery Quarter, and see much the same going on."
After creating her designs, which takes up half the time she spends on her business, Christine sets about ordering the materials she needs to bring them to life.
First off is ordering her silver. She uses Nexgen. which has been based in the Jewellery Quarter for more than 25 years.
"Most jewellers get sheet silver, but I get mine cast. I provide the casters with wax molds.
"I have got a drawer underneath my bench to collect any filings that I don't use as I'm filing the casts down or sawing pieces off. They can be melted down and used again, or exchanged for more silver.
"We are the original recyclers." Christine's gem supplier is also nearby.
She mainly uses semi precious stones, including topaz, garnets, rhodolite garnets and labradorites which she buys from Shipton & Co.
The firm employs the Jewellery Quarter's last working gemstone polisher, Alan Cleverley.
Christine has also been commissioned to create an engagement ring, and was able to purchase the diamond nearby.
"My set pieces are my most popular.
People are often attracted to the colour of the stones," she said.
"It's great having a lapidarist so nearby.
He's one of the last in the country.
Much of the gemstone polishing is done in Thailand and India now. I would have to travel there to buy my stones, if he was not here."
In order to create her jewellery Christine has to use a specialist set of tools, which can also be expensive.
Celebrity She buys much of her equipment from HS Walsh & Sons, based in the Jewellery Quarter for 25 years.
She's not alone - the company has a range of celebrity customers, including pop producer Pete Waterman and micro-sculptor Willard Wigan.
Store assistant Lee Campbell said: "We try to help the students at the School of Jewellery. Many of them go on to bigger and better things."
Once her jewellery is completed Christine is able to get her work hallmarked and stamped with her own mark at Birmingham Assay Office, also within walking distance of her workshop.
It is the largest of its kind in the world and tests and hallmarks precious metals as required by the Hallmarking Act.
She is currently working on her Christmas selection.
Yet there is only one outlet in the Jewellery Quarter that sells products made by the local jewellers - Artfull Expressions. Around 40 per cent of British jewellery is still produced in the 250-year-old district, which has been proposed as a World Heritage Site.
But most of this is sold elsewhere and many of the shops sell gems that are bought in from elsewhere.
Christine sells her products online and at an array of craft fairs as well as at Artful Expressions.
Kate Gilliland, Artfull Expressions shop assistant, said: "The shop has been here for 20 years. We've also sold jewellery that has been made in the Jewellery Quarter.
"Customers visit from all over the world, America, Brazil, all over the place. We also get quite a few from London. They really like that they can by jewellery that has been made locally."
For more information about Christine's jewellery go to www.christinedaviesjewellery.
STUNNING PIECES: A red garnet set charm and necklace, above. HARD AT WORK: Jeweller Christine Davies moved from Ireland to her Hylton Street studio and says there is nowhere in the world like the Jewellery Quarter.