JEWELRY MANUFACTURE IN BADEN
A branch of manufacture in which Germany has made notable progress in recent years is that of jewelry and gold and silver ware. The domestic product is not only supplying a large home demand, but is going into all parts of the world, and its manufacture is giving employment to a vast number of workmen and skilled artisans.
Preeminent among the jewelry-manufacturing towns of Germany is the city of Pforzheim, Baden, in a somewhat isolated position at the northern edge of the Black Forest region. It is a city of about 45,000 inhabitants and for more than a century has been noted for its manufacture of jewelry. There are now more than 700 different jewelry factories in the city employing over 20,000 workmen, whose annual earnings aggregate nearly $4,760,000. They produce jewelry amounting to $24,000,000 annually, two-thirds of which is exported to foreign countries. About 12,000 of these workmen reside in the city itself, the others living in the surrounding villages. Many of these factories are small, while others are large, some of the latter giving employment to more than 500 workmen. About 400 of the factories have power plants, mostly electric, operated from the city light and power plant of Pforzheim.
Minor attention has been given thus far at Pforzheim to the manufacture of the finer grades of tableware and jewelry. Some of the firms, however, carry on these branches to a limited extent. Large quantities of diamonds and other precious stones are used by many of the establishments.
The specialties of most of the factories are all kinds of low-priced jewelry and novelties of every sort.
It is stated that in a recent meeting of a society of jewelry manufacturers in Paris much stress was placed on the extent to which the German manufacturer is wresting this trade from the French. The editor of a leading French jewelry journal pointed out in an address that for the past twenty years the German manufacturers in this branch of industry have made astounding progress and that they have had their designers in the art galleries and libraries of Paris and elsewhere copying artistic designs to be used in the manufacture of jewelry.
In considering the development of this industry in this part of Germany, account is also to be taken of the abundance of labor and correspondingly low rate of wages. The proportion of hand work required is large and is sufficiently varied to afford employment to entire families—in fact, to entire villages.
Shipments to the United States of the goods manufactured at Pforzheim are not large. Undoubtedly the manufacturer would assign customs duties as the chief obstacle in the way of a valuable trade in that direction. Shipments of German jewelry to France now amount to about $1,750,000 in value yearly.
H. W. Harris, Consul.
Mannheim, Germany, April 2, 1904.
Source: Monthly Consular Reports, Issues 283-285 - United States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor. Bureau of Statistics - 1904