Friday, April 30, 2010

Diamonds Dealers Are A Girl's Best Friend

In the last couple of years, I have done stacks of research on gemstones to learn about their history and metaphysical properties. Now more than ever, I am fascinated by gemstones. Just by chance, while walking around NYC one day, I happened on the gemstone capital of the world, the 47th Street Jewelry District.

I'm not one to buy expensive jewelry for myself, but it has been purchased for me as a gift. I do like to look, though. Most diamonds in the United States go through the Diamond District, so if you are wearing a lovely sparkly one on your finger, just know that it has probably been to 47th Street, even if you haven't.

The stores are varied in size, from expansive, full service retail establishments, to modest booths in one of several diamond "mini malls". More than 2,600 independent businesses are located in the Diamond District, and nearly all of them are related to diamonds or fine jewelry, with a few delis tucked in, too.

Price? Prices are less than what you would pay retail. And probably less than the cruise ship tourist traps just off the ship. But you gotta haggle. Or at least be prepared to, because these gents want to make a deal with you. The first time I went to 47th Street, I happened to be wearing two rings: one was my grandmother's royal star sapphire wedding ring, and the other was a sapphire I'd received as a gift from my daughter and son-in-law. A couple of the shopkeepers standing outside to bring traffic into their stores assumed I might want to trade. No dice.

My latest visit was a little more subdued. The Hassidic Jews, dressed in hats and suits, normally seen walking down 47th Street were nowhere to be found. It was Jewish Passover and they were not working. But most of the stores were open. I chatted up one shopkeeper about some gems my mother had given me that I was hoping to get put into a setting. Aside from the bigger stores, each shopkeeper has a specialty, and what I wanted wasn't his. He had a couple of ideas, but said that he'd have to subcontract to another dealer.

If you love and know fine jewelry, and you negotiate well, 47th Street is a must when you are in New York. Even if you are not a jewelry fanatic, go. It's fascinating to watch the deal making in action.

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