Located at the southwestern edge of Germany, Idar-Oberstein is the historic gemstone-cutting center of Europe.
The origins of the industry go back at least 500 years. The industry was originally based on local deposits of agate,
jasper, rock crystal, and amethyst but beginning in the 19th century, all kinds of rough gemstones began to be imported
from around the world. The industry grew very rapidly from the middle of the 19th century. A great deal of this success
was based on the manufacture of agate beads, "African money", for export to Africa and the Middle East.