The NYC Diamond District – How to Avoid the Shopper’s Trap

New York City’s famous Diamond District is home to more than 4,000 jewelers and wholesalers congregated at one single location. Situated in Midtown Manhattan, the entire street is a constellation of small jewelry stores and exchanges selling various types of gemstones, fine jewelry and diamonds.

47th street new york city diamond district

Photo credits: Chris Ruvolo


Whether you are a serious shopper or someone who’s just browsing out of curiosity, you’ll find an overwhelming selection of diamond jewelry on display. In today’s post, we are going to take an indepth view into shopping at New York’s famed Diamond District and offer tips to help you navigate the pitfalls of spending money there.

Where Is The Location Of NYC’s Diamond District On The Map?

You can find the Diamond District in NY along West 47th Street in between the 5th and 6th Avenue. In the excerpts from Google Map below, I had indicated the district with a red line.

diamond buyers district office ny map

google earth of 5th and 6th avenue

Most stores are open on weekdays and Saturdays from 9.30am to 5.30pm. Do note that the opening hours may vary from store to store and certain businesses only allow visitors by appointment only.

9 Essential Tips For Shopping in the Diamond District of NYC

As a consumer, you might assume that the Diamond District at 47th Street is an ideal destination to start shopping for a diamond ring. However, the truth is far from that. In fact, it may actually be more difficult for the average consumer to buy a truly high quality engagement ring than anywhere else.

To the uninitiated, the Diamond District is a huge shark tank. During my visit, I had personally experienced the sinister side of the district where jewelers tried to rip me off by assuming I’m an average Joe who knows nothing about buying diamonds.

suckered into scams

Besides aggressive sales people who would say anything to make you believe their claims, you also need to be wary about the false promise of “record low-prices”. I strongly urge you to do your research carefully before buying anything to avoid getting scammed.

Tip #1 – Nothing Is Too Good To Be True

Most consumers assume that the Diamond District is full of deals and that they can buy diamonds at wholesale prices. People who believe that are delusional and it is important for you to have realistic expectations.

Here’s my first rule of buying diamonds: Unbelievable cheap deals NEVER exist. As I had explained in my free ebook (simply sign up for the newsletter with your email to download it), if the price of a diamond is too good to be true, its qualities is being misrepresented. A tell tale sign is that these diamonds do not have grading reports from a reliable 3rd party lab like GIA or AGS.

NOTE: If you’re buying a diamond or colored gemstone, make sure you check if the stone is natural and whether it had undergone any form of treatments.

If you are looking for ideally cut diamonds, ditch the Diamond District. Instead, you’ll get competitive prices and transparent cut data at sites like White Flash, Brian Gavin and Enchanted Diamonds.

Tip #2 – Never Go Unprepared

If you intend to shop the Diamond District with zero knowledge, you are asking for trouble and you deserve to get ripped off for not doing your due diligence. Don’t expect the jewelers to give you a complete education and honestly point out negative aspects of their diamonds. Many people had fallen prey to unethical jewelers because they didn’t know better. Don’t let this happen to you.

In my own experience, the sales people on 47th Street are not orientated towards good customer service. Instead, they are extremely sales orientated and would tell you all sorts of stuff just to make a sale. Make sure you read up extensively on and build up a comprehensive knowledge about the 4Cs before shopping.


Tip #3 – Never Be Pressurized Into A Purchase

Salespeople in the Diamond District area are notorious for their arrogant and aggressive attitudes towards customers. On my last visit, I entered about 13-14 jewelry stores and stopped by countless of booths in jewelry exchanges.

What I noticed was a stark difference in the way customers get treated, depending on the kind of customer you are identified as. In my own experience, the sales person changed his attitude completely as soon as he knew I had no intentions of making any purchase.

Besides a cocky attitude and obvious displays of being inpatient, I was treated with a lack of respect when I started probing for details of individual jewelry pieces. In one instance, I was refused to be shown an item and had a sarcastic remark thrown at me “You aren’t buying anyway, why do you want to see it?” (What? You mean everyone who walks into your store MUST buy something?)

Could you imagine facing someone who said that to you if you were shopping for a 10k engagement ring? It really makes me wonder how these shops can survive if they treat all potential clients in this manner. Anyway, this type of customer service simply irks me and gets on my nerves.

Besides poor service, here are some shady marketing tricks that sales people would use to instill false urgency in an attempt to make you commit to a purchase.

lies diamond dealers tell you

– They will tell you that the item you are viewing is a “hot product” and will be gone by the time you return to the store again.

– If you buy now, they will reduce the price by XX% and this special deal is only valid if you commit immediately.

– They will act like giving you a “special discount” is a big deal and will call their managers, CEO, mother, father or even their imaginary boss to get the discount “approved”.

Now, I’ve been around in the industry long enough to tell you that these tricks are basically lies to prey on greed and impulsive shopping behavior.

Here’s my advice and it also pertains to jewelry shopping in general. You shouldn’t never feel intimidated by the salesperson to ask any questions you have. The job of a sales person is to help you with a purchase and not to scare or pressurize you. If you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to walk away from the situation like I did; simply hit the door and move on to the next store.

Tip #4 – Shop Around And Compare Prices

are prices at ny diamond district cheap?

The New York Diamond District has more than 4000 businesses and the majority of them are selling the same merchandize. Since the product offerings overlap from one store to another, you should browse around a little to get a feel of the prices being offered. Needless to say, you shouldn’t be making a big ticket purchase at the first store you enter.

Now, one of the most common mistakes people make when performing price comparisons is that they aren’t comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges. When comparing diamond prices, you should be using 2 diamonds with similar specifications and paperwork for the comparison. For example, a 1.00 carat G VVS2 diamond graded by EGL is not the same as a 1.00 carat G VVS2 diamond graded by GIA.

Also, you need to beware of misleading banners and advertisements that say “wholesale” prices. This is a marketing gimmick. Wholesale prices don’t exist on the retail storefronts and if you are in a store who claims this, walk away. The real “wholesalers” don’t deal with the public and will only sell to people in the trade or other jewelry businesses.

Here’s a piece of advice to help you in your negotiations with sales representatives. Never tell them how much your budget is or how much you want to spend. If you do, this will set the price that they will charge you. Instead, you want to maintain a bargaining leverage by getting them to show you items you are interested in before mentioning prices.

Tip #5 – A Reliable Grading Report Is A MUST

One common trick jewelers employ to misrepresent their diamonds is through the use of appraisals with overly inflated values and shady grading certification. Bear in mind that NOT all grading certification are made equal.

If a vendor tries to sell you a diamond with a certificate from dubious gemological labs like EGL, GAI, IGI, GALA and etc…, I can assure you that the grading standards are poor and the diamond will be overgraded in its true properties. That is to say, a G VS1 diamond graded by an unknown lab would likely be a J SI1 if the same stone was graded by GIA. You’ll end up paying more for a diamond that only sounds better on paper!

In order to know exactly what you are buying and that the diamond is being represented correctly, you should only consider diamonds graded by GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or AGS (America Gem Society).

gia certificate authentic

Here’s how an authentic GIA grading report looks like.

ags laboratories real report

Here’s how the platinum light performance report from AGS looks like.

Tip #6 – All Return Policies And Guarantees Must Be Written Down

get everything down in writing diamond district new york

Let me make something clear; you should never shop with the mindset of returning a purchase for a full refund. You want to make the right purchase the first time round by doing it once and doing it well. In my opinion, any return policies the vendor offers is just to safeguard your purchase and to eliminate risk.

Secondly, the majority of diamonds sold in the district aren’t well-cut and more than 90% of goods sold there are sub-par in my opinion. On top of that, the majority of shops on the 47th Street have difficult return and exchange policies.

Before handing your credit card or cash over to a jeweler, you need to be crystal clear on the type of return or refund policies they have in store. If you are a first time buyer, the semantics of return and refund can be very confusing and the context can be different from other forms of retail businesses.

In short, return means you can only return the item and exchange it for another item. Any money you paid will be locked in with the jeweler and converted into the form of a credit. A refund means that you can get your money back. It is best to get all the refund/return terns and conditions written out in black and white.

For me, the rule I abide to when buying diamonds is simple; NO REFUNDS = NO PURCHASE. Speaking from both a professional and a consumer point of view, I will only buy diamonds from vendors who offer NO QUESTIONS ASKED refund policies for 14 to 30 days.

The rationale is straightforward here: if I’m going to be unhappy with my purchase, there’s no way I would buy anything else from the same jeweler again. I’m not going to let my money be locked in with the jeweler and be forced to spend my credit with him/her. Having a return period of at least 2 weeks will give me sufficient time to evaluate the newly purchased piece of jewelry.

If the jeweler you are working with won’t allow a refund policy and only accepts returns, don’t do business with them since these are the kind of people who won’t stand behind their products. Find someone else who would and with the amount of jewelers on the 47th Street, I’m sure there will be someone who would gladly offer you such terms.

Tip #7 – Avoid Soliciting Hawkers On The Streets

street hawking dubious charactersHawkers may be some of the most colorful characters found on the Diamond District in New York City; carrying banners, handling out leaflets and smooth-talking unsuspecting clients into the stores. Personally, I find them to be a huge nuisance because of their aggressive attitude and annoying pestering.

In my opinion, their presence cheapens the district and makes it look like a 3rd world flea market. Based on my own experience and visiting stores touted by hawkers, businesses that hire hawkers tend to offer mediocre products. If you think about it logically, would any respectable business need to rely on street hawkers to solicit business?

Tip #8 – Verifying Details Before And After Making a Purchase

From emails sent by readers, I heard horror stories about unscrupulous merchants who trick unsuspecting customers by showing them a particular certificate and selling them a completely different diamond. Unethical vendors take advantage of customers using this switching scam with the hope that they can’t tell the differences in quality. The best way to prevent such rip-offs from happening is to use a loupe or microscope and ensure that the inclusions shown on the certificate matches up with the diamond you are buying.

Another similar scam that ignorant customers get conned by is the use of doctored and fake certification papers. To avoid this, make sure you know how the original grading reports for GIA and AGS look like and verify them against their respective online databases with your mobile phone.

Lastly, regardless of the amount paid for any purchase, always request a printed sales slip which clearly indicates the vendor’s name, address, date of purchase, purchase amount and any applicable sales taxes. Any verbal claims/guarantees that were made by the jeweler should also be written down. This will give you grounds for pursuing legal actions in the event the claims are found to be false.

At any point in time, if a jeweler or store makes you feel uncomfortable, listen to your guts and leave. There are literally hundreds of other shops and exchanges within walking distance that may be better worth your time.

Tip #9 – Use Your Credit Cards

credit card protection at the diamond district nyc

Shops along the NYC diamond district don’t accept cheques and prefer to deal in cash transactions. In my opinion, it is best to make purchases using an American Express credit card. In the event of a dispute, AMEX usually takes the side of the customer and may help you perform a charge back to get your money back.

What Are The Types Of Jewelry Worth Buying?

The only type of jewelry I would recommend buying at the diamond district is precious metal based jewelry because they are sold by weight and aren’t as complicated as buying gemstones. For example, gold bangles, gold bracelets, platinum wedding bands can easily be compared in terms of prices and styles.

Unless you are looking at metal jewelry created by well-known designers, the prices offered to you shouldn’t be drastically different from one jeweler to another. When buying gold or platinum jewelry, look out for a quality stamp or hallmark (e.g. 18K, PLAT 950) which indicates the kind of material used.

Skip the Diamond District And Shop Online Instead

There is a common misconception that you get cheaper prices at the NY Diamond District. That’s a myth. For better prices and GIA/AGS graded diamonds with better cut quality, I recommend online vendors like White Flash (ideal cut diamonds), James Allen (their magnified videos provide more information than shopping at a physical store) and Enchanted Diamonds.

All in all, I can sum up the Diamond District in 2 words – Buyer Beware! In reality, the 47th Street is a huge beginner’s trap for buying diamonds. If you don’t want to take the risk of buying jewelry and end up receiving something else for what you actually paid for, avoid the area.

If you had been to the NYC Diamond District, I would love to hear about your experience and details of what you bought (if any). Do share it with us in the comments section below.

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  1. Jane-
    February 1, 2015 at 1:00 am

    Is it important to appraise the diamond engagement ring after buying it? My friend advised me to get a separate appraisal performed on the same day after buying any jewelry from the NY diamond district. I also read that we should get an appraisal done in order to check the quality of the engagement ring.

    He did mention a couple of places where I could visit:

    1) State Gemological Appraisal & Lab
    55 West 47th St. Booth ME-22-384

    2) Accredited Gemological Institute
    37 W 47th St Suite 503
    New York, NY, United States

    3) Gemological Appraisal Industry
    20 West 47th Street
    New York, NY, United States

    4) Appraisers WorldWide
    105 West 55th Street
    New York, NY, United States

    5) Universal Gemological Lab Inc
    71 West 47th Street #204
    New York, NY 10036

    Bunda Jewelry Appraisers
    608 5th Avenue #701
    New York 10020

    What are you thoughts on this and do you have any appraisers in the New York region to recommend?

  2. Paul Gian-
    February 1, 2015 at 5:03 am

    If you had heeded my advice above and only stick to buying diamonds graded by GIA or AGS, an appraisal may not be necessary. The reason why many people often advice getting your jewelry appraised is due to the rampant scams and misrepresentations that happen in the diamond district.

    If you are buying an uncertified diamond or a stone with dubious grading origins, I recommend an appraisal because you won’t know what you are getting. Since you know better than to buy uncertified diamonds after reading this article, I trust that you won’t do something silly like this.

    For more information on appraisals, read this link:

    With the list of appraisers that you mentioned above, I have no prior experience with any of them and can’t offer any comments about their service. In general, I would avoid those that have an affiliation with sellers or those that sell jewelry themselves. Basically, you want to find a truly independent 3rd party service that will not have any conflicts of interest in providing a honest opinion.

  3. Joseph D. Miller-
    February 3, 2015 at 2:13 am

    Upon entering the district, there’s a bazaar-like atmosphere amid the brightly lit windows and you’ll also notice people straddled to walkways on both sides of the street. These are the hawkers on 47th Street. Like you mentioned in your article, it is best to avoid them.

    Personally, I tend to avoid the stores by the walkways and prefer browsing in the jewelry exchanges which houses 100’s of independent businesses under one roof.

    If I’m not wrong, there are more than 20 different exchanges located there and they sell everything under the sun in these exchanges.

    One word of caution though, you do need to know what you are doing at these places or you’ll get fleeced.

  4. Aceline-
    February 9, 2015 at 4:54 am

    I’m a tourist from France and I recently bought a diamond ring from a jeweler in the diamond district of New York. The sales person assured me that I was buying a natural diamond and it had a grading report that clearly indicated it was a “Natural Diamond”.

    When I returned home 2 weeks later at the end of my holidays, I decided to bring the ring to a local jewelry store for a check. The jeweler told me that it was fracture filled and the stone is only worth about 50% of what I paid. At this point, I’m both angry and shocked. I brought the ring to a professional appraiser and paid a fee of 30 Euros to get the ring examined again. The results were the same.

    As it turns out, there was a small comment in the report that remarked C.E. and at the point of buying the diamond, I didn’t think that it meant clarity enhanced and that the stone had been fracture filled (or something like that).

    Now I have no recourse as the only way I can do something about the ring is to fly back to the United States and confront the store. I hope my story is shared and that your readers avoid the scams. Please forgive my English as it isn’t my native language.

  5. Barbara-
    April 14, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Would you have any idea if the 47th street diamond exchange is open on Saturdays and Sundays? That’s about the only time I would be able to visit. Also, are diamonds cheaper in the diamond district if we were to compare an identical stone to other retail stores? i.e. both stones are GIA certified D color VVS2 triple excellent.

  6. Paul Gian-
    April 15, 2015 at 1:54 am

    The opening and closing hours for various stores vary from one business to another. The stores along the main walkway are generally open on weekends but many of those that are located inside the higher levels of buildings aren’t.

    Diamonds are priced as commodities. In general, if you don’t shop at branded stores like Tiffany or Cartier, you shouldn’t expect to see a huge premium on the pricing of a diamond. Based on my experience, the pricing in NYC isn’t cheaper. On the contrary, they are generally higher because of the expensive rents that the stores have to pay. This overhead is always factored into the list price of products you see there.

  7. Carole-
    July 31, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    From recent experience, shopping around diamond district without doing research and reading reviews is not recommended. You have to be very careful because if you don’t know much, you will get scammed.

    When I visited with my boyfriend, I did my research and dig up reviews and listened to peoples’ recommendations. You really have to look around and make sure that when you make an appointment with a jeweler/designer, you read up and know what to expect.

  8. Dee-
    August 21, 2015 at 12:56 am

    This article was VERY helpful. I just came from the diamond district with my BF shopping for a GIA certified diamond engagement ring. My question to you is, how can the district price their rings significantly cheaper than well known stores like Zales, Kay’s, etc??? We have seen the GIA certificates, the quality ranged from vs1-vs2, F-H color, 3 Xs for a 1 carat.
    How can this be? Other than the bait and switch, are there other scams like fake certificates?

  9. Paul Gian-
    August 21, 2015 at 2:58 am

    You are wrong. The diamond district doesn’t offer fantastic prices. It’s just that Zales and Kay’s are too overpriced to begin with. You are basically paying Tiffany-like prices at Zales and Kay’s where there is an extraordinary markup.

    If you want to compare pricing the correct way, read this:

  10. Keyma-
    September 6, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Hello how would one rate a colored stone from the diamond district since black stones aren’t GIA certified if I recall correctly?

  11. Paul Gian-
    September 7, 2015 at 7:50 am

    GIA does grade black colored diamonds. Those that aren’t sent to GIA for grading are purposely done so for a reason. And that’s for jeweler’s to make more money at your expense.

  12. Vanessa-
    September 15, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Do you know of any reliable jewelry stores in NYC that I can buy an engagement ring and not be scammed?

  13. Paul Gian-
    September 15, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    There’s one that I do know of:

  14. Jorge-
    September 30, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    Hi Paul.
    Thanks for your page!

    I’m from Chile and next week I’ll be in NY and I want to buy a ring for my wife. I don’t have the time to purchase online as rings take some time to be manufactured. Can you recommend me some jewelries to visit in NY?



  15. Lisa Ackerly-
    October 20, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    Paul are you in any way affiliated with Enchanted Diamonds? Or White Flash?

  16. Paul Gian-
    October 21, 2015 at 5:42 am

    Yes. In fact, I’m affiliated with more (20+) diamond vendors and I don’t necessarily recommend all of them except for the really great ones.

  17. Natasha D.-
    October 22, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    Hi, after exposing one of the diamond vendors in the district for some shenanigans after we almost purchased my diamond (we had the certified check and I happened to find the same stone online from a wholesaler at $13K reduction) I have decided to go the online route, can you tell me why every site I explore features the same inventory of stones? I have matched certs/specs from at least 5 NYC websites to Dubai Diamond Wholesalers site. So where are the stones coming from? Are they coming from one central locale, and essentially whichever dealer can sell the stone will pay the wholesaler? Thanks

  18. Paul Gian-
    October 23, 2015 at 2:48 am

    These retailers get the diamonds from the same database of suppliers. This is true for the majority of the diamonds you see online with the exception of a select few vendors who curate their own signature diamonds. In such cases, these diamonds are “exclusive” to them and you won’t find them being listed anywhere else.

    If you are going the online route, make sure you read this:

    These vendors handpick and keep an in-house stock of ideal cut diamonds that you can’t get elsewhere.

  19. Taylor Mucaria-
    November 10, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Hi Paul,

    I have been looking online at a site called and was curious if you have ever heard of it and if so what your thoughts are on the site.


  20. Paul Gian-
    November 11, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    Their business model is very similar to BlueNile’s and that means you buy blind. Not a website that has my seal of approval if you want to be able to cherry pick the best of the best.

  21. Martha Miroyan-
    November 13, 2015 at 2:22 am

    Hi Paul: I frequent the Pricescope website. Many knowledgeable consumers post on this website. One good jewelry store in the NYC diamond district is ID Jewelers. Just an FYI

  22. Paul Gian-
    November 14, 2015 at 12:37 am

    Thanks for the info.

  23. Taylor Mucaria-
    November 18, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Hi Paul,

    When you say Lumera Diamonds is like Blue Nile and that you are buying blind what exactly does you mean? They say all there diamonds come with a GIA certificate but this is all new to me so I am sure there is more to it then that. If you could just briefly elaborate on what buying blind means.

    Thanks for the help!

  24. Paul Gian-
    November 19, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    Also, all you need to do is to compare what kind of information they provide for their diamonds against reputable vendors I frequently recommend.

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