There are nooks and crannies of the world where the jewelry industry has been a driving economic influence; in some instances it has been a source of economic wealth for the entire country. Some of these nooks are small cities where you will actually pinpoint specific jewelry techniques, gemstones, and important museum histories. I have been spending the last year accomplishing my jewelry projects and goals in Germany, and have seen some exciting, unexpected jewelry-related developments. If you truly love jewelry, then Germany should be on your must-visit list for jewelry inspiration. Just keep in mind, the German word for jewelry is “schmuck”!
After doing my own search for where to find the best stones, manufacturers and jewelers in Germany, I found that Idar-Oberstein (formerly Idar and Oberstein) was the city that prided itself on being the most jeweler-ific (having been a gem-cutting center established over 500 years ago with the first jewelry trade show taking place in 1859).
Home to the Edelstein jewelry/gemstone/glyptics museum, http://www.edelsteinmuseum.de/, it was truly a sight to behold and worth a visit for any jeweler or gemologist as a must-see jewelry destination. Besides the quite large museum filled with carved and finished pieces as well as diamond-cutting exhibits, which you can easily spend hours visiting, Idar-Oberstein is famous for its glpyticians (intricate stone-carving!), walk-in ground level shops with overqualified international gem dealers, and more museums (the mineral museum is worth checking out as well!). I also had very good Black Forest ice-cream in the town center.
After seeing all that Idar-Oberstein has to offer, and realizing that I cannot manufacture everything that I want there, I decided to go to Pforzheim, also known as “Goldstadt” or the Golden city. Like Idar-Oberstein, it has a beautiful jewelry museum (Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim)! The museum details the history of jewelry (and watch-making) dating back hundreds of years and has pieces from ancient cultures as well as from the Middle East. There are enough pieces to keep you occupied for at least three hours, and there is a small changing collection as well as a permanent collection.
Ultimately, I was searching for a place to bring my 3D designs to life in a more efficient way, perhaps seeking high-volume 3D printing and casting. I was also curious as to what technology Pforzheim uses, considering Germany is home to many manufacturing companies and utilized 3D printers such as solidscape and formlabs. I found what I was looking for, after stopping at a typical German Wine festival, but was surprised to learn that there were less than 11,000 jewelry and watch manufacturers left in Pforzheim.
Last but not least, the Inhorgenta jewelry show takes place in Munich every year. It is the German equivalent to the Vicenza Oro show in Italy, but not quite as big as the JCK show or Hong Kong show (which features some of the same German jewelry companies and private German jewelers which are spread out all across the map of Germany), nor as big Baselworld, which is the epoch of watch design and high-end jewelry fantasies brought to life.