The formerly separate towns of Idar and Oberstein developed into a center for gemstone cutting and jewelry production as early as the 14th century. In the region in today’s Rhineland-Palatinate, the professions of gemstone cutter and gemstone driller had already developed early on due to the natural deposits of agates, jasper and other gemstones. As a result, goldsmiths settled in the region from the year 1660, who knew how to use the production of cut gemstones as a source for their jewellery production.
From the middle of the 18th century the agate deposits in the region were exhausted, more and more agate was imported from other regions of the world, e.g. Brazil. Also, the share of manufacturers of metal goods, especially jewellery and (watch) chains increased. During and after the First World War, with the advent of the wristwatch, the demand for watch chains decreased and many factories switched to costume jewellery. These factories then came under pressure in the 1970s due to production in low-wage countries.
Today, there are still very important jewellery manufacturers in the Idar-Oberstein region, mainly in the real jewellery sector. In addition, many gemstone and diamond cutters and dealers can still be found. With the German Diamond and Gemstone Exchange, which opened in 1974, Idar-Oberstein provides an important world trading center for gemstones and diamonds. The stock exchange’s imposing high-rise visually dominates the cityscape. In addition, Idar-Oberstein is home to the German Gemstone Museum and the German Mineral Museum. The city hosts the annual gemstone trade show Intergem and is the headquarters of the Federal Association of the Gemstone and Diamond Industry, which, among other things, awards the annual German Jewelry and Gemstone Prize.
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