Natural Diamond Prices – March 2023
PriceScope is your go-to resource for learning about the current state of the diamond market. We discuss how socio-economic implications such as the current recession affect consumer buying behavior and…
NYC Diamond District Review: These pages may reference products from companies that help to support PriceScope.
The Legendary NYC Diamond District
The USA is the world’s largest consumer market for diamonds and the New York Diamond District is the USA’s busiest diamond commerce area. Over 90% of all diamonds entering the country pass through New York City and the majority pass, in some fashion, through the Diamond District. Centered on 47th street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, the area boasts more than 2,600 independent businesses employing some 33,000 people, nearly all of whom are involved with diamonds or jewelry.
There are wholesalers, suppliers, and producers active in every sector of the industry, along with thousands of independent jewelers. At street level there is abundant consumer traffic, thanks to many attractions in the vicinity. The district is one block east of the Broadway Theater District, two blocks east of Times Square, one block south of Rockefeller Center and three blocks south of Radio City Music Hall and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Planning a visit to the NYC Diamond District? Buy absolutely nothing without reading Section 5, below.
1. What is the NYC Diamond District’s Story?
It all started downtown…
Diamonds were first traded on Maiden Lane and Canal Street near the Financial District in New York. The move uptown started in the 1920s, as rent prices in lower Manhattan increased due to a growing number of finance, insurance and banking companies moving into the Wall Street area.
The midtown diamond epicenter grew in population and importance after Germany’s invasion of Belgium and the Netherlands forced thousands of Jews in the diamond business to flee Antwerp and Amsterdam. Many of those displaced families relocated to New York and opened businesses in the district.
In 1941 the NY Diamond Dealers Club (DDC), the largest and most important organization in the U.S. industry, relocated their trading floor and synagogue from downtown to midtown. The DDC’s move to “47th, between Fifth Ave and Sixth Ave” cemented the location of the USA’s primary hub for buying, trading, and selling diamonds.
The NYC Diamond District is one of the world’s most important diamond and jewelry trading centers. It’s the most recognized domestically, followed by Philadelphia’s Jeweler’s Row and the Los Angeles Diamond District. It is also the second oldest surviving jewelry district in the United States after Jewelers’ Row.
2. What is most appealing about the NYC Diamond District?
If you’re in midtown Manhattan the district is one of the world’s unique and interesting places. To that end, it may be worth walking for nothing more than its uniqueness, bustle, and cultural diversity. A word of caution, prepare to be proactively solicited.
There are people up and down 47th street who are paid to convince you to enter one of the many shops but keep your billfold firmly in your pocket until you read this entire page. Let us repeat that. Buy absolutely nothing without reading Section 5, below.
Despite the aggressive hawkers soliciting business, the NYC Diamond District may be one of the most guarded and secure areas on the planet during normal business hours. The streets are busy with police officers and armed security guards protecting shipments. Most buildings have security in the lobby, and many require you to have an appointment and provide ID before entering. Thousands of offices throughout the high-rise buildings use mantraps to control your ingress and egress.
There are more inviting street level stores which may not have obvious security, for reasons we’ll outline below, but you can be certain it’s there, coupled with constant video surveillance, silent alarms, undercover police officers and more.
3. What diamond and jewelry products does the NYC Diamond District offer?
Nearly anything can be found or sourced through the NYC Diamond District. From the most low-quality salt & pepper melee to the rarest, most expensive loose diamonds, gemstones and jewelry offered by luxury brands and auction houses, there are deals being made. The newest products attributable to advancing technology, including all classes and categories of laboratory grown diamonds, also find their way into the district.
If you are a member of the jewelry trade, buying and selling diamonds, gems and settings in volume, the NYC Diamond District is a place of unparalleled access and opportunity to engage with suppliers, manufacturers, and industry professionals in all sectors.
Buy absolutely nothing without reading Section 5, below.
Before you shop: Don't commit to a purchase in the NYC Diamond District without comparing what you are offered with the price, reliability and long-term benefits offered by PriceScope's short list of vetted diamond vendors, including Blue Nile and Whiteflash. While you're in the diamond district, schedule an appointment and visit JamesAllen.com's 5th Avenue location.
4. What sets the NYC Diamond District apart from others?
The NYC Diamond District is one of the world’s most concentrated wealth centers. The collective businesses there are responsible for nearly $25 billion in trading every year. The lion’s share of that commerce happens between members of the trade; miners, producers, suppliers, buyers, and retailers.
Those ongoing deals keep the country’s jewelry showcases filled, from department and national chains to independent retailers to luxury brands like Tiffany & Company, Cartier and LVMH.
Million-dollar deals in the district are often sealed with a handshake and the word “mazal” with no contracts or lawyers. It’s a place of venerated traditions and practices, passed down from generation to generation among a variety of cultures. A January 2020 article in Smithsonian magazine described the Diamond District:
“Visit 47th Street today, and the stylish pedestrians of Fifth and Sixth Avenues vanish. In their place are elderly, ultra-Orthodox Jews wearing black overcoats and fedoras; south and central Asians with traditional karakul hats; and gaggles of merchants shouting in languages from across the world… Forty-seventh Street is, in fact, a thick network of middlemen, with diamantaires buying and selling large caches of diamonds much like stock-brokers.”
5. Are you the ideal NYC Diamond District customer?
Read this before buying anything!
Because of its status as a global diamond hub, many people presume the NYC Diamond District will be the ideal place to shop for an engagement ring or other jewelry. Before buying anything there, it’s important to understand some wider context.
In the NYC Diamond District, especially, the term “wholesale” is a gimmick. The only true diamond wholesalers are miners like DeBeers. There is an established chain the world’s diamonds follow, from miner to producer to domestic suppliers to retailers. By visiting the NYC Diamond District, you can move up one link in the chain, but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a better deal than your local jeweler would offer. Any business using the term “wholesale” is trying to seduce you with an illusion.
The ‘Downstairs’ District
As you walk 47th street between Fifth and Sixth you’ll pass a series of inviting street level stores soliciting walk-in buyers. The merchants there are well-aware of the district’s reputation and frequently promote themselves as “wholesalers to the public.”
They are used to having that term challenged; and some have convincing stories, showing phone photos of rough diamonds, a visit to a diamond mine, etc. These street level stores compete vigorously for walk-in buyers. Unfortunately, such competition invites exploitation, and there is a well-documented history of dishonesty and bad deals with consumer buyers as the victims.
Don’t get swindled by the Downstairs District - with using PriceScope's easy-to-navigate site, you can beat the dishonesty and bad deals and come out on top. Find the best loose diamonds and deals with our helpful forums and experts readily available.
The ‘Upstairs’ District
Most of the real business in the diamond district takes place in high-rise offices above street level. Behind the mantraps and closed doors, parcels of loose gems and finished jewelry are traded in multi-million-dollar volumes, often prior to their arrival from overseas. Professional buyers from all around the country visit those offices as well, making six and seven-figure deals for the buying organizations and companies they represent.
This is the ‘real’ diamond district: Professionals trading with other professionals. In most cases, without a warm referral and an appointment in advance, the average consumer has no access to these places.
6. Is it safe to buy a diamond in the NYC Diamond District?
It can be done safely.
With the context in Section 5 understood, there are honest sellers in the diamond district from whom it’s perfectly safe to buy. Here is a list of things we suggest you do to facilitate this.
1. Find Them Online
Many consumer-friendly jewelers in the diamond district have an online presence and list their inventory where you can browse it ahead of time. Knowing what kind of inventory a store offers, understanding their policies and getting familiar with their proposition, is better than walking in blind.
2. Ensure Reliable Reporting
Be sure any seller you are considering offers diamonds with a recent grading report from one of the top-tier grading laboratories: GIA, AGS, IGI and GCAL. For natural diamonds, GIA is the industry leader, and the dominant grading lab used in the diamond district. For lab grown diamonds, IGI is the industry leader and dominant grading lab.
3. Check Proper Pricing
Buying a diamond in the diamond district should not cost more than buying from a reputable online seller, should it? No. Compare the prices being offered with any of PriceScope’s vendors, apples to apples. You shouldn’t make a purchase in the diamond district, only to learn you could have saved money with the click of a mouse.
There’s no reason a diamond should cost any more by just being in the diamond district; especially when you can't prioritise what's important to you in your diamond purchase. Pricescope has more than a million loose diamonds for sale with all the details, easily available with the click of a mouse.
4. Make an Appointment
Many diamond district jewelers are in high-rise offices beyond security. It’s not always convenient to ‘drop in.’ Additionally, if you make an appointment in advance and tell the jeweler what you want to see, they might gather some extra items to show you that were not listed online.
5. Don’t Get Pushed
Beware sellers who tell you a deal will expire if you leave and/or do not offer an inspection and return period. Life changed after 2020. Everything you buy today, even goods ordered online, can be returned if it’s not what you needed, or arrives different than advertised. A diamond purchase should be no different. A minimum inspection and full return period should be an expectation
6. Ask PriceScope
Register to post on PriceScope and share what you have been offered in a public post, here on the RockyTalky forum. The community is extremely vigilant and will let you know whether the deal you’re being offered is the GOAT (greatest of all time) or just … a goat.
It's easy to get swept up in the excitement of the New York City diamond district. Why not get out of the hustle and bustle, and find your dream diamond online at one of our highly reputable, vetted vendors?
Offering only the highest quality of diamonds available, don’t hesitate to check out Whiteflash, Blue Nile, or James Allen for your next big diamond purchase.