This past June, a group of eager Greeters couldn’t wait to be dazzled by New York’s famous Diamond District. Our gracious host, Michael Grumet, Executive Director of the 47th Street Business Improvement District (BID), served us a sumptuous breakfast at the World Diamond Tower at 580 Fifth Avenue and 47th Street.
And, oh, what we learned from Michael! The district is the center of the American jewelry and diamond industry. The industry bills over 24 billion dollars a year, and is home to more than 4,000 businesses. Over 70% of employees are minorities and women – cutters, setters, polishers – all very well paid.
Avery Weinschneider of Weisz Jewelry, and VP of the BID, talked about cutting a diamond so the fire and brilliance come through. He specializes in close-outs, also known as manufacturers’ leftovers. “I’m the Loehmann’s of 47th Street. I can show you real value!” he said with great pride, comparing his business to the famous discount clothing store.
Both men shared hot tips about buying in the Diamond District so that it’s not overwhelming. First, be an educated consumer: go to their website at www.diamonddistrict.org Always walk out of the room if anyone says their prices are ‘wholesale’. There’s no such thing as ‘wholesale,’ although prices aren’t full retail like Tiffany or Saks. “And put anything you buy on your American Express card,” Weinschnedier said, “in any dispute, they always side with the customer.”
Finally, we strolled down 47th Street where Michael took us into a large jewelry exchange. On last sighting, many Greeters – both women and men – were eyeing sparkly things, while gleefully humming “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.”