10 Diamond District Shopping DOs and DON’Ts
By Devorah Isenberg , Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Anyone who has every tried to shop for loose diamonds or an engagement ring in New York’s famed Diamond District knows that it can be overwhelming, frustrating and intimidating, as well as an amazing place to shop and browse in the most highly concentrated district of diamonds and diamond jewelry in the world. The Diamond District, occupying hardly more than one square block of space on 47th and 48th street in Manhattan, is home to a whopping 2,600 diamond and gold jewelry retailers. It is one of the most difficult places to purchase diamonds but also a place where you can get some excellent deals on classic styles like an ideal round cut diamond or a classic gold necklace.
However, with a few Do’s and Don’ts in your back pocket, you will be much more prepared and ready to make the most of one of the most unique shopping experiences in the world.
DO make an appointment. There are thousands of stores in the District, and thousands of diamonds changing hands every day. You will be more likely to get the attention you need from the proprietor—and get the best selection of ideal round diamonds, hearts and arrows diamonds, or whatever you are looking for—if you call before you come in and make an appointment. While not every store takes appointments, the best ones do, and it will help make your trip just a little smoother and easier.
DON’T try to make a purchase in Diamond District unless you know exactly what you are looking for. Browsing the area for the hustle and bustle and people watching can be fun, but don’t try to buy something unless you really know the product. Read a few loose diamond buying guides before making the trip, and make some basic decisions ahead of time: do you want a round shape diamond or a princess cut? GIA vs AGS certification? Is an ideal cut diamond good enough or do you want a hearts and arrows super ideal diamond?
DO make a list of what criteria are important to you. Once you are faced with tray after tray of loose diamonds, its easy to lose sight of the factors that are most important to your diamond needs. Writing it down and referring to the list will help. You can pick and choose notes from your diamond buying guides and be prepared to insist on only seeing stones that fit your criteria. Only want a hearts and arrows diamond? Make sure your salesperson knows it. Have an opinion on the GIA vs. AGS debate? Tell them which one you want to see. Only want to see ideal round cut diamonds of between 1 and 1.2 carats with a G-I color grade? The best part of the Diamond District is the selection, so feel free to be picky!
DON’T get pressured into buying something you don’t want. Savvy Diamond District salespeople can be helpful, but unfortunately, they are very skilled in pressuring you into purchasing diamonds without thinking about them enough, or into not listening to the advice from your diamond buying guides. Don’t let this happen!
DO insist on buying loose diamonds that come with a reliable laboratory certification. Most loose diamond buying guides recommend specific labs like the GIA or AGS. There are many gem labs out there, but only a few that perform high quality and reliable certification services. Make sure that the diamond is certified by an independent lab, not by the store or company itself, and make sure you retain the right for an independent appraisal as well. A “no questions asked” return policy has become standard in the industry- make sure the merchant offers that and get it in writing.
DON’T even consider dealing with street vendors or hawkers. Remember, if someone’s prices seem too good to be true, they probably aren’t. Street vendors offer no recourse, so if you have a problem with your purchase, there will be very little you can do.
If, however, you are interested in costume jewelry and don’t care if the stones are genuine, and you can verify the quality of the construction and craftsmanship yourself, buying from a street vendor can be a fun and economical choice.
DO take your purchase to an independent expert for verification, and have the appraiser also check the integrity and security of the setting as well.
DON’T leave the store or complete your payment without a full write-up of the merchandise details and the store’s refund, return and benefits policies.
For more specific questions ask our experts