In this age of global stores like Amazon, Costco and Starbucks, it’s refreshing to know that the New York City Diamond District is composed almost entirely of small family businesses.
Michael Grumet, Executive Director of the 47th Street Business Improvement District (BID), shared this knowledge and other intriguing facts at The World Diamond Tower on 47th Street and Fifth Avenue.
We learned that over 70% of people in the district are women and minorities, the epitome of the American Dream. Many of them learn a trade, such as diamond setting or cutting, and they learn it masterfully. Soon they’re earning good salaries with good benefits and they often pass their trade to the next generation. The district does 24.2 billion worth of business each year, and it employs over 30,000 people.
Michael introduced two BID Board members who spoke about their specialties. First was Manhattan Gold & Silver’s Michael Ostacher, a second-generation expert in precious metals. He took us to “The Melting Room,” a tiny space in the building where we saw scraps of gold liquefied, then poured into graphite molds to create a solid gold bar. Sammy Abramov of A.A. Pearl talked about how international the pearl industry has become. While it started in 1959 with the Japanese firm, Mikimoto, today the pearl business thrives in Australia, China, Belgium and Israel.
Michael Grumet proposed an ingenious plan to us Greeters and our visitors. He suggested that we go to one of the expensive name brand jewelry stores on 5th Avenue, find something we love, and then compare the price of a similar item in the Diamond District.
“It will always cost less here because our merchants don’t have the high marketing costs of these other stores,” said Mr. Grumet.
Our final stop was Manny Winick & Son, one of many shops in a 47th Street exchange. One look at the brilliant diamonds and gems, and we realized it was time to glisten up! We left, wanting to put Michael Grumet’s plan into action immediately.
For more information about the Diamond District, please visit their website at www.diamonddistrict.org