NYC's Diamond District! - Do's and Don'ts
Jan 14, 2000
I have been buying jewelry in the city for almost twenty years and love NYCís diamond district (both of them). In that time I have learned a lot about what to do and what not to do.
There are actually two diamond districts in NYC. The more well known is the one on 47th street, and the other is on Canal Street. I have shopped in both and believe the Canal Street one is cheaper, but it is in a worse area and has more people who want to take advantage of you.
In general shopping in the diamond district IS NOT like shopping at any other store. Many people have the same product and you must look around (and occasionally haggle) to find the best price. There are also many people that will try to take advantage of you and sell you poor quality merchandise (in this respect it is a great deal like a mall).
Be prepared to walk away - Many of the jewelers here will try to push you to buy. Donít ever buy the first thing you see. It will still be there in an hour. Look around, find out price on comparable products and find someone you can talk to try to buy from.
Bring Cash - It may seem a little shady, but most places donít take checks and some donít take credit cards either.
Get a receipt and appraisal - This will help you find out if you really had a deal
Hold on to your purse - This is just good advice in NY.
Tell them if they show you merchandise that is lower quality than you were expecting - This will make them aware you know what you want and know what you're talking about.
First and foremost Ė DO NOT BUY JEWELRY HERE IF YOU DONíT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING! Most people do not do enough research about jewelry and therefore can get cheated here. Do not let this happen to you. If you are buying gold, look around and get an idea how much your items costs. If you are buying stones, find out what they should look like, how they are graded, and what fakes are like. I once asked to see emerald earnings. Having looked around before I knew that most average emeralds have inclusions, such as carbon chunks. Finding emeralds without flaws is very tough and very expensive (which is why I never wound up getting emerald earrings). Therefore, when the jeweler presented me with a large tray of big, perfect emeralds, I knew they were synthetic. You should have seen her face when I asked for ďrealĒ stones.
Do not expect anyone to take a check!
Do not buy something if you think you may return it. Many places have difficult return and exchange policies. If you have any doubts, wait.
Do not spend more than you intend. Once, when I was shopping with a friend, I stopped in a store to look at a bracelet. The assistant there showed me the one I wanted, and another person came over and began speaking Russian to her in an effort to get her to show me something more expensive. They both did a double take when my friend answered them in Russian that the bracelet we were looking at is the one we are interested in.
Do not tell them how much you want to spend If you do, this is the price they will charge you. Tell them what you are looking for and then only after they show it to you and indicate the price should you tell them what you wanted to pay. That will leave you in a better bargaining position.
Do not let them ship the jewelry to your home. In order to avoid sales tax, you can have jewelry shipped to an out of state address. This is a great idea, but donít let them ship the jewelry you purchase to your home. The stores there are not reputable enough. Instead, ask them to ship the box, and you take the jewelry. I have seen people do this, but I donít think it is legal.
Things that are easy to buy there
- Gold Bracelets Ė unless these are by a designer they are often sold by weight. To compare, ask the pennyweight or grams of each piece and the price.
- Gold Earrings - Many people have the same earrings, or styles. Just look around and compare price and styles
- Any other metal jewelry Ė Once again, pricing on metal is often about weight. So even a novice buyer can compare items easily.
Things that are hard to buy there
- Any stone Ė with all the methods of treating stones and creating synthetics, be careful if you intend to buy stones in the Diamond District. If you want something that you like (for instance, I like the look of light pink rubies, which are less expensive than the high quality dark stones), it is fine to buy it here, but if you are worried about price or quality (as you usually are when purchasing diamonds), be careful.
- Pearls Ė Yes these are stones, but they too are very hard to buy.
Tricks they can pull
- Showing a certification that doesnít belong to a stone. To prevent this type of trickery, check the stone in a loop to make sure the inclusions match the ones shown on the chart. If you have any doubts, donít buy it.
- Selling synthetic and treated stones as real stones. Unless you know jewelry these will be hard to identify. However, a good rule of thumb is anything that looks too perfect and is at a ďgreatĒ price probably isnít real.
One jeweler I can recommend for walk ins in the City is David S. Diamonds on 47th. I know two people who purchased their engagement rings here and have been very satisfied with the stones. Although I havenít purchased anything from this place I have been in his store a few times and have compared his prices to other. He specializes in engagement rings with good cuts and Rapp sheet prices (In short the Rapp sheet is a published diamond price list. This price will usually be lower than other jewelry store prices.). Needless to say, I have been in and out of all the stores on 47th street and have seen diamonds and other jewelry in many of them. David S was the best jeweler I found. If you want a good price on a well cut stone (this is very important, there are better prices out there but usually with bad cuts), a no pressure environment, some information and a chance to see a few diamonds in your price range, this is the place to go. Also, since they charge you the Rapp Sheet price, their prices are pretty much set with little haggling. Visit them if you can. It is one of the few stores in the city where a novice is welcome and (from what Iíve seen) wonít be taken advantage of.
David S Diamonds Inc
9 W 47th St
New York, NY 10036
(FYI - In case youíre wondering, I donít work for him, nor do I make any money if you go there. I just believe it to be a pretty good place to go.)