Diamond District NYC: The Ultimate Jewelry Shopping Guide

New York City is home to a world of fine restaurants, entertainment, and upscale shops. Did you know it also contains one of the largest hubs for jewelry shopping in the United States? In the 21st century, it's common for people to shop for fine jewelry online instead of patronizing a brick-and-mortar jewelry store. That doesn't stop NYC's diamond district from being a powerful force in the diamond industry. 

What Is The Diamond District?

More than 2,600 independent jewelers and jewelry wholesalers make up NYC's diamond district. This district spans 47th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue, making it the definition of a hot-spot for gemstones, fine jewelry, and diamonds. Those who seek out this cluster of shops do so in hopes of finding an incredible deal on a piece they love. However, there's more than meets the eye to the diamond district, of course. 

The History Of NYC's Jewelry Epicenter

Fine jewelry is by no means a new commodity. In the 1800s, people flocked to NYC with the desire to purchase their diamonds from Maiden Lane in downtown Manhattan. This movement sparked a trend. The upper-class began buying diamonds from downtown and lower Manhattan in a frenzy. 

Not long after that, the cost of rent began to rise. As the financial district near Maiden Lane became more established, jewelers found it necessary to relocate. In a crafty move, buildings on 47th Street began construction with the intent to draw in the jewelry stores that could no longer maintain their downtown location. By 1925, many jewelers relocated, establishing what we know today to be the diamond district. 

Fun Facts About The District

  • Around 95% of diamonds that enter the United States pass through the diamond district at some point. 
  • Even the streetlights are shaped like diamonds at either end of the block on 47th street.
  • The district's jewelry traders have their own vocabulary that extends beyond just the 4 C's shoppers know. Here are some examples:
  • Strop: a stone that just won't sell
  • Tam: an 'appeal or flavor' that experienced jewelers can sense intuitively
  • Trip X: A triple-threat stone containing superb cut, polish, and symmetry
  • Bluff Stone: A diamond that looks more quality than it is

Tips For Survival In The Diamond District

If you’re planning to brave New York City’s diamond district any time soon, make sure that you go in prepared. 

Get to Know Your Basic Diamond Education

When shopping for your desired fine jewelry piece, you should keep a few things in mind. Whether you're planning on shopping online or at a jewelry store, it's an excellent idea to inform yourself of fine jewelry's quality standards before making a purchase. If you're planning on visiting jewelry retailers on 47th Street, this principle is even more crucial to keep in mind. Your ability to know what makes a quality piece and to identify illusory dupes is critical to braving the diamond district. 

You'd do well to research extensively before visiting this diamond hub, but it's a good idea to brush up on some foundational principles for diamond buying before diving deeper. For a basic overview of the quality standard you should know by heart before shopping the district, let's review the 4 C's compiled by GIA:

  • Color: A diamond that is pure by all standards will be virtually colorless. 

    Gemologists hold these stones under controlled lighting with precise viewing conditions to evaluate the absence or presence of color. Once assessed, gemologists grade this diamond on a D-Z color-grading scale. A grade of D is the closest to colorless that the market has to offer. Some jewelry retailers wade into the H/I zone, where a trained eye might be able to detect some color. Most fine jewelers prefer to stay in the range from D-G to maintain a quality stone.

  • Clarity: A diamond of value will include very few blemishes within the stone. 

    A trained diamond grader knows what to look for when evaluating the inclusions found throughout a diamond. A diamond with more inclusions would receive a grade that affects its price significantly. To the untrained eye, these blemishes are incredibly difficult to distinguish.

    Before purchasing a diamond, you should confirm that a trained diamond grader has evaluated it. This clarity grade will help inform you about the value of the diamond you want versus the price.

  • Cut: An impressive stone exhibits a cut that refracts light particles spectacularly. 

    A diamond's cut shape varies with a person's taste. Some prefer cushion-shaped diamonds, while others prefer baguette-style stones. These styles are all suitable cuts. Masterful diamond graders examining the cut of a diamond aim to assess its' ability to interact with light. A diamond with a supreme cut includes precise symmetry, proportions, and polish. This characteristic is the most challenging to grade and takes a truly experienced eye to judge.

  • Carat Weight: An excellent diamond is worth its weight. 

    A carat is the measurement of a diamond's weight in millimeters. It's common for jewelers to discuss a diamond's carat weight on a scale of 100 points. A 0.37-carat stone would be a "37-pointer," while a 2.04-carat stone would be called a "two-point-oh-four" stone. Carat weight determines how valuable a stone is when the other 3 C's are of high quality. However, you should evaluate the carat weight in conjunction with the cut, color, and clarity of the stone you're considering. 

Get To Know Who You're Dealing With

The diamond district contains numerous jewelers looking to make a sale. Unfortunately, many of the jewelers who comprise NYC's diamond hub don't have your best interests at heart. Shoppers commonly encounter scams and false claims when they enter the district unprepared. For this reason, it's beneficial to brush up on your diamond knowledge before entering into their territory. 

It's an interesting paradox – many of the diamond retailers in the district want to make a sale with you and will go to great lengths to do so. With manipulative sales tactics, they will try to convince you that you need to make your purchase with them as soon as possible to benefit from their one-of-a-kind offer. Yet, if you give them pushback, they may ditch their sales pitch and begin to treat you poorly. 

Reputable Jewelers in NYC

If you've been considering a trip to the diamond district, the odds are that you're looking for the best deal on a high-class diamond. We don't blame you. Perhaps you're hoping to uncover fine discount jewelry that's every bit as quality as an engagement ring from Cartier or a sophisticated tennis bracelet from Tiffany & Co. You might be able to find something of value in the diamond district if you have experience with identifying excellent diamonds. If you don't, there are still reputable jewelers in NYC that can make your dream diamonds a reality. 

Noémie Offers The Best Quality For The Price

While you're envisioning the perfect high-class bracelet to upgrade your wardrobe, consider shopping with a jeweler who provides handcrafted jewelry at an affordable price. Noémie, believes the excellence of your favorite high-end jewelers can be yours at a fraction of the cost. 

By cutting out the middleman and buying directly from ethical diamond suppliers, we are able to cut out the senseless price mark-ups you'll find with other brands. We foster responsible production throughout our practices to give you the very best value on fine jewelry year-round.

Although our online shopping experience is seamless for your convenience and comfortability, you may desire to browse a collection at one of our on-site locations in New York or Los Angeles. Rather than being manipulated into a purchase or being treated in the undignified manner you might encounter in the diamond district, we want to offer you a more welcoming environment for examining exceptional jewelry.

Noémie's SOHO Loft

Our SOHO location is the perfect place for you to step off the streets of lower Manhattan into a peaceful loft filled with beautiful pieces of jewelry you'll love. You're free to peruse our diamond rings, handcrafted bracelets, and customizable necklaces at your leisure. Our loft is a great place to see what quality looks like for yourself while exploring our range of superior materials. 

At Noémie, we think you deserve thoughtful treatment while you examine your options with diamond jewelry. More than that, you deserve a fair price and transparent communication about the value you're receiving when shopping with us. We encourage you to consider scheduling a Loft visit (or a virtual appointment with us if that is more comfortable for your preferences.) If you join us, we'd love to discuss our inspiration, latest discoveries, and our process at your scheduled visit. 

Experience Is Priceless

The diamond district in Manhattan can be a rough place if you're inexperienced in the world of diamonds. Enticing offers can turn to manipulative bargaining, and a gem that initially looked like a great buy can turn out to be a scam. For a brighter fine diamond shopping experience, let us show you around our Loft location in SOHO at your pace. While you browse our collections of diamond jewelry, we hope you'll enjoy some tea and a kinder shopping experience with us. 

Sources:

https://beyond4cs.com/reviews/nyc-diamond-district/

https://www.mgsrefining.com/blog/2011/08/30/history-of-the-nyc-diamond-district/

https://www.nycgo.com/articles/inside-the-diamond-district

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/26/magazine/the-secret-slang-of-the-diamond-district.html