If you had to pick two streets from the A-Z to highlight the strange variety of London's random sprawl, Hatton Garden and Leather Lane would do the trick. The former is a sparkling parade of gold and jewellery where the rich and powerful shop for gleaming status symbols, while the latter is a noisy lunchtime market lined with a string of greasy spoon cafes. But oddly, these opposites have attracted one another, each making up for the other's deficiencies - providing class where it is absent, and sustenance where it is needed. Hatton Garden and Leather Lane are parallel streets a few yards apart, but may as well exist in parallel universes for all they have in common.

A stroll along the length of Hatton Garden is probably a bad idea for the poor, the hungry or the broken-hearted - there's nothing to buy (except jewellery, gold and diamonds), nowhere to eat and nothing to see apart from wall-to-wall, gold-plated kissing couples. There have been jewellers working in the street since 1836 and it houses the London Diamond Club at No 87. However, there is nowhere to buy a bag of crisps or have a cup of tea.

"We got the rings at Hatton Garden," Liam Gallagher supposedly growled to reporters on the occasion of his engagement to Patsy Kensit. "And it cost me an arm and a leg - more than you earn in a year." The brawn behind Oasis picked Patsy's diamond ring from the exclusive window of Anthony Gray, but further along the road at Manhattans, staff were provided with proof positive of Labour's Election commitment to curb spending when Robin Cook paid them a visit on Christmas Eve. The Foreign Secretary purchased a pounds 600, 18-carat gold-and-diamond ring for his new partner Gaynor Regan, a snip from the "the lower price bracket" - prices at Manhattans peak somewhere around pounds 4,000.

A blue plaque at the top of Hatton Garden notes the work of Sir Hiram Maxim, an inventor and engineer who made an early version of the machine gun, which, back in 1884, fired 600 rounds a minute. Meanwhile, two statues of eager-faced children above an office entrance on the corner of Cross Street are a reminder of a charity school which dates back to 1696 - it was bombed in WWII but the facade still remains.

The pawnbrokers on Greville Street and St Cross Street ease one into Leather Lane, their bright signs promising "Cash for Gold". The market is open from midday to 2.30pm, Monday to Friday, and caters for hundreds of office workers. As London markets go, this is quite a chatty one, where stallholders spout informatively on that day's dodgy gear.

A sign of Hatton Garden's continuing prosperity is at the bottom end of the road, where a branch of William Hill has been taken over by yet another jewellers. In fact, the only other shops on the street are a branch of Barclays Bank and a film-processors - handy for withdrawing cash for the wedding ring and getting the honeymoon pictures developed. But, if it all goes horribly wrong, there's always the pawnbroker around the corner.