Shopping in the New York’s Diamond District
By Ashley Bailey , Tuesday, February 01, 2011
As many visitors to New York know, the area near 47th Street in Manhattan is crowded with small shops advertising great prices on every kind of diamond, gemstone, and gold jewelry. It’s the New York Diamond District, and it seems logical that it would be the best place to pick up a specialty item like an ideal-cut diamond or a perfect engagement ring. Right? Not necessarily.
It may be more difficult than you think to get a top-quality engagement ring in New York’s Diamond District
Although the Diamond District is home to many top jewelry manufacturers and is a huge clearing house for international jewelry trade, the average consumer needs to be really careful when trying to shop for any kind of diamond, especially an ideal-cut stone, in the hustle and bustle of the New York Diamond District. The biggest problem, of course, is that as a first or second time diamond buyer, it’s unlikely that you will be able to tell at a glance if the diamond you are being shown really lives up to the criteria you are being promised. Unfortunately, many questionable and less-reliable businesses have opened up around the wholesale centers of the New York Diamond District, and these are the establishments that are likely to lure you in with sparkling window displays and promises of rock-bottom prices.
However, shopping in the New York Diamond District can be fun and makes a great addition to any tourist itinerary, as long as you keep a few important tips in mind.
- Stick to fashion jewelry, like earrings and bangle bracelets. Don’t try to make important jewelry purchases, like diamonds, in a store where you aren’t 100% sure of the integrity of the owner and his willingness to stand behind his product. Certifications help, of course, but some of the worst jewelry stores may attach the wrong certification to your diamond, and hope that you won’t be able to tell the difference.
- Don’t be afraid to compare prices between more than one store, and to try to push the salesperson to give you a better deal if you are buying more than one item or making a big purchase. Many Diamond District jewelry stores do not accept checks; some accept only cash—you have to decide if you are comfortable with that kind of transaction. If the store seems suspect or you are being pushed into buying, don’t be afraid to walk away. This may prompt the salesperson to offer you a better price, but if it doesn’t, keep in mind that many of the stores in the New York Diamond District sell essentially the same merchandise. Even if the diamond offered is a better, price there is always a reason behind that offer.
- Set a budget and stick to it. It’s easy to get carried away when you are surrounded by jewelry items worth tens of thousands of dollars, but if you only have a few hundred to spend, look for a simple gold piece of good quality and walk away happy. But never tell the salesperson your budget—he or she will make sure that you spend every penny at that store. Tell him what you are looking for, and then ask for price quotes; don’t ask to see everything in your price range.
- Buy diamonds or gemstones in the Diamond District only if you are confident in your familiarity with different kinds of stones and the identifying factors of each. If you are sure that you will be able to spot a fake, and that you can double-check that your diamond is paired with the correct certification, then you can consider shopping for ideal-cut or other diamonds in the Diamond District, but make sure that every diamond is certified. Before you buy, make sure that you will be getting a receipt and appraisal, and ensure that the store allows you to take the stone for independent appraisal before the return period elapses. (Beware—some Diamond District stores do not accept returns at all!) If the return policy is not good, don’t buy anything you may want to return!
Make sure you are very familiar with diamond grading criteria before attempting to buy diamonds in the Diamond District
- If you really know your stuff when it comes to diamonds, show the salesperson what kind of customer he is dealing with by rattling off the criteria and factors that are important to you. Show off your knowledge a bit, and they will be more inclined to pull out the top-quality ideal-cut diamonds for you. Ask for a loupe and inspect the certificate carefully—show all the signs of being a savvy, well-informed customer. If the merchandise isn’t of the quality you were expecting, make them aware that you are the kind of customer who knows what he wants!
- Most importantly, if a deal is too good to be true, it probably isn’t. If the store owner shows you a tray of pebble-sized diamonds of perfect clarity and ideal cut grades and offers you one for $1,000, look him in the eye and say that you are looking for real diamonds. Don’t get swept up in the thrill of the bargain and end up with a stone that looks dim and shabby outside of the bright store lights, and worse, don’t end up with an overpriced fake diamond
For more specific questions ask our experts