Inside the World Diamond Tower at 580 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, our gracious host, Michael Grumet, treated us to a sumptuous breakfast of lox, bagels, cream cheese, fruits, veggies, coffee, tea and juice.
Michael is Executive Director of the 47th STREET DIAMOND DISTRICT BID (Business Improvement District.) He also gave us a feast of information about the district, explaining there are 74 BIDS in the city – “Ours is just one block long: 47th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.”
The diamond and jewelry industry is the largest manufacturer in New York State. The industry does $24.2 billion worth of business each year, and it employs over 30,000 people in New York City alone.
It is also a place where the American Dream is alive and well. Employees come from all over the world. Even without educational degrees, they earn high incomes by learning a valuable skill. They run their own small businesses which they often pass on to their children. 70% of employees are women and minorities.
Michael introduced two Board members of the BID: Michael Oistacher of Manhattan Gold and Silver, and Sammy Abramov of AA Pearl & Gems Co. Inc. Michael Oistacher’s father started the business, now one of the largest gold buyers in the city. The reason is simple he said: “You get good value for your dollar with no tricks or scams.”
Sammy Abramov’s business was also started by his father. Sammy talked about cultured pearls (created manually) invented by the Japanese company Mikimoto in 1893. He said Mallorcan pearls were actually plastic(!) and that Chinese pearls were of inferior quality. Sammy told us that rubbing your teeth against pearls and getting a gritty feeling means they’re high quality.
The Diamond District offers unparalleled value. This is because you don’t have to pay for a brand name (like Tiffany) or for the exorbitant real estate that comes with it. To be smart shoppers, Michael suggested we spend some time walking up and down the street, seeing what we like; then go to www.diamonddistrict.org to learn all the legalities and to find reputable merchants.
He didn’t have to twist our bracelet-hungry arms.