The NYC Diamond District is a congregation of jewelry stores and diamond merchants located in midtown Manhattan. If you’re visiting New York and out to buy a diamond, or you’re just a casual shopper, you will be overwhelmed by the pure volume of diamond merchants there.
But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. This article will tell you everything you need to know about the NYC Diamond District!
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What is the NYC Diamond District?
The Diamond District of New York is a short stretch of diamond merchants and jewelry stores selling diamonds, fine jewelry, estate pieces, and everything in between. Located on West 47th Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue, the Diamond District takes up almost exactly one block.
The current Diamond District first formed in the 1930s after diamond retailers relocated from nearby locations. Before this, the center of the diamond industry in New York was at Maiden Lane, located four blocks north of Wall Street.
After World War II, the diamond industry changed significantly, with refugee diamond merchants setting up shop in the NYC Diamond District, as well as Tel Aviv and Antwerp. There are now over 2,500 diamond and jewelry retailers in the NYC Diamond District, making it one of the largest diamond districts in the US and a global hotspot for diamond dealing.
The Diamond District is also home to the New York campus of the Gemological Institute of America, the leading diamond specialist trainer in the USA.
The reason people visit the Diamond District is to buy diamonds. The presence of wholesalers and so many diamond retailers, as well as the fascinating bazaar feel to the district, means that you should be able to drive a hard bargain (more on this later!).
But, in recent times, the Diamond District has dropped in size, with some merchants and exchanges closing for good. And, like anywhere, a district jeweler will likely try to sell you sub-standard jewelry for a premium. So here are some tips for next time you’re in Manhattan visiting the Diamond District.
1. Do your homework before you visit the Diamond District
If you’ve planned a visit to West 47th Street to buy a diamond or some jewelry or if you’re in New York and decide to visit on a whim—do your homework first!
Make sure you understand the basics of diamond and jewelry quality. Read up on the 4Cs, and have a good idea of what you’re looking for before heading to any jewelry counter.
Aggressive salespeople will try to sell you loose diamonds or diamond jewelry for higher prices than they’re worth, and they rely on you not knowing anything about diamonds.
Also, make sure you know what kind of diamond you want and what your budget is. This will help you avoid aggressive sales tactics that can be common in NYC’s Diamond District. Look for a diamond that is clear and colorless to the eye, and then move on to tip number two.
2. Ask for a grading report
Always ask for a grading report when looking at loose diamonds or diamond jewelry. Stick with those from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the American Gem Society (AGS), as these are trusted sources.
If there’s no grading report, no deal. This is especially true for a colored diamond, as many are synthetically colored (and worth less than a natural diamond).
3. The New York Diamond District is huge, so compare prices!
Take your time. You might only be in Manhattan for a day, but a diamond is an expensive commodity. You want to be sure to buy the perfect diamond at a fair price.
After you have the grading report, take a moment to check prices for similar grades from other retailers (you can do this online).
This way, you’ll know if the price is fair. Then, if you need to, head to another store. That’s the good thing about the NYC Diamond District—there are thousands of options!
Should you buy a diamond from the Diamond District?
The NYC Diamond District is an experience in itself. Whether you’re a resident of New York or a tourist from overseas, it’s a great place to visit and experience the charm of an old-world marketplace in the middle of Manhattan.
But the Diamond District comes with its risks, too. There will be plenty of retailers in the district trying to sell you poor-quality diamonds at exorbitant prices. A dodgy store will rely on you not knowing anything about diamond quality, so make sure you do your homework if you’re serious about buying a diamond from the district.
There you have it. If you’re ever near West 47th—now you know what to do!