The Diamond District in New York City is located in midtown Manhattan between 5th and 6th Avenue on 47th Street near Times Square and Rockefeller Center. This is the hub, the place where rough diamonds are cut into sparkling gems and precious gold and platinum is made into beautiful fine jewellery. This is the home to more than 2,600 independent businesses making it the largest shopping district for diamonds, fine jewellery and gemstones in the world. Here is also the place where you’ll find exceptional variety, renowned designers and incredible value.
This area became a dominant influence in the industry after World War II following the settling of a large immigrant population of Orthodox Jews in the diamond business in New York City. These immigrants brought with them expertise in trading, cutting and setting diamonds, and they created thriving businesses and a community of people with similar cultures and traditions.Today most deals in the district are consummated with only a traditional blessing (mazel und brucha), a handshake and according to tradition and culture a verbal agreement is binding.
The United States is the largest consumer of diamonds in the world. 90% of the diamonds sold in America make a stop in New York City, with the majority of them ending up in the Diamond District before eventually landing in retail shops throughout the country. The district caters to both wholesale and retail clients, and if you were to tally up the receipts from an average day of sales and trading in the district, the total would be a staggering $400 million from one small city block. It’s no wonder consumers flock here to shop for remarkable deals on diamond and fine jewellery.
Safety is rarely a concern for the consumer, which might be surprising considering the sheer amount of highly-priced goods and currency packed into such a small space. This block of New York contains more security than any other area of the city, with hundreds of cameras (many inconspicuous), plain-clothed police and privately hired security guards. The Diamond District in Manhattan is one of the safest places you can visit in New York City and this is true for all of the other “Diamond Districts” in the country such as Chicago and Los Angeles.
You might be wondering what to expect when you arrive, prepared to shop for the perfect diamond engagement ring at a great deal. You’ll find that some merchants have stand-alone stores accessible from the street, but the majority of the retailers are set up in booths along one of the 25 “exchanges” in the district. Each exchange contains up to 100 independent businesses under one roof, where you’ll discover variety and options with every step you take. You’ll find not only diamond dealers but purveyors of all kinds of fine jewellery, from diamonds in gold and platinum, to estate jewellery, gemstones and pearls. You’ll also find an abundant supply of designer jewellery and manufacturers with the ability to create a custom-designed piece just for you.
The thought of shopping for a diamond or engagement ring at the Diamond District might seem a bit overwhelming if the idea is new to you, especially if it’s your first time purchasing a stone. It’s important to arm yourself with knowledge, do your homework and have a general idea of what you’re looking for and how much money you want to spend. There’s so much information available about diamonds online, along with comparable prices, that with a little time and effort you can approach a buying trip to the Diamond District with confidence, knowing the outcome is going to be a beautiful diamond at a great price.
The large majority of retailers in the jewellery business are reputable and honest people, and the Jewellery District in New York is no exception, but here are some tips and advice that will protect you from the few unscrupulous individuals that tarnish the industry and create insecurity among consumers.
- To ensure you’re dealing with a reputable business it’s advised to limit your shopping to the exchange booths and stores, and avoid individuals peddling wares on the street. “Buyer beware” of the person who stops you on the sidewalk with an incredible deal because it usually isn’t. These people are known as “hawkers”, and their job is to get you into a particular retailer. They work purely on commission and have no responsibility to ensure you’re getting what you pay for.
- Haggling is expected, but it’s definitely advisable to enter the negotiations with some awareness about what you’re purchasing and its value rather than just expecting a specific discount; this is where that homework comes in. Just because someone says they’re giving you a discount, doesn’t always mean it’s a good deal.
- It’s also a good idea to shop around and compare merchandise and prices between the different merchants, and if you’re uncomfortable with some “high-pressure” sales tactics, walk away and find a different merchant that allows you to make your decision at your own pace.
- If you’re purchasing a diamond or colored gemstone, ask for specifics on the stone. What’s the clarity and color of the diamond? Has the gemstone been treated? New York City requires that the retailer give you a written receipt with all the pertinent information about his business as well as any claims the merchant has made about the item. Make sure all of the information is there, they are required to back up any verbal claims in writing.
- Get clarification on the vendor’s return policy. If no policy is posted, you can legally return or exchange your merchandise within 20 days of purchase.
The New York City Diamond District is also a great place to sell jewellery because you can shop around and secure the best deal for yourself. Just make sure the dealer you choose is licensed to purchase from you as a second-hand dealer. I also encourage you to do some research before you make the trip in order to understand the second-hand market for jewellery. Consumers are often underwhelmed by what their valuable pieces will fetch in price when trying to sell them, even to a reputable buyer. In general you’re going to find a fair deal here because of the competition among merchants. Remember, they’re not doing you a favour by buying your jewellery, it’s the other way around and in general you should have some understanding of the secondary market for fine jewellery before you decide you want to sell.
If you’re a tourist in Manhattan or a serious shopper for fine jewellery, you can’t beat the selection and wealth of knowledge you’ll find in this one small block in New York City. The Diamond District is known worldwide for offering exceptional prices and value to everyday consumers, from the place where jewellery is manufactured and diamonds are cut and traded. If buying diamonds is new to you check out this guide to the 4 cs (cut, colour, clarity and carat). If you can approach the process of buying a diamond or piece of fine jewelry in the Diamond District with some education and knowledge behind you, chances are you’re going to come away with a significant deal and the diamond of her dreams.