He's so close to popping the question... and you're (excitedly) going engagement ring shopping together. Like any stylish New York City girl, you've already hit up all the essential designer spots — Cartier, Tiffany's, Harry Winston — to try on your dream ring. But, when it comes down to it, they aren't the only viable options to purchase your
engagement ring. That's where the Diamond District comes into play.
While the stretch of 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues sits right under our noses as the epicenter of all things bling, many local couples can be intimidated about the Diamond District— and understandably so. With pushy peddlers on the streets and countless shops and exchanges in the buildings above, it's hard to know where to begin. We're offering a little guidance into this mysterious place with some advice on how to unveil some of the most beautiful rings in the country (for a discount) at the Diamond District.
Here are our top five tips on how to shop the Diamond District to find your dream ring!
1. Do Your Diamond Research
Before you take a walk down 47th Street, know exactly what you're looking for in an engagement ring. Too many options can lead to total confusion. "Narrow your decision by learning about the four C's... Carat, Cut, Color, Clarity," says Jaclyne Kirkorian Poliseno of Jupiter Jewelry, a third-generation Diamond District jeweler. "Don't be afraid to walk into (retail) stores first just to window shop and try on different styles. Once you've narrowed down the shape and stone size that fits you best, you can tweak the price by adjusting the color and clarity."
2. Get Referrals
Unlike major retail chains, the Diamond District is comprised of over 2,600 small businesses, so it can be hard to decide who is a reputable merchant. But, before you get overwhelmed, think about this: most of these jewelers are extremely small businesses consisting of 2-3 people in total. "Sometimes people are hesitant to shop at the Diamond District because they feel like they're not getting a real diamond or a good deal. The truth of the matter is that a good jeweler isn't willing to risk his/her reputation to rip people off," says Poliseno.
"Our goal is to provide amazing service, have customers shop with us again, and of course, share their experience with family and friends. Small businesses rely heavily on referrals." So, start your hunt with who you know. Ask married friends, co-workers and colleagues where they shopped for a ring. You may be surprised to hear many "have a guy" in the Diamond District, someone who they have been using for many years, if not generations.
3. Be Honest About Your Budget
It may seem counterintuitive to show all your cards, but when it comes to shopping at the Diamond District, honesty really is the best policy. "Tell us what you really want to spend. If the jeweler can't give it to you for that much, they're simply going to say no, but most of the time they will be able to work with a realistic budget," says Poliseno.
Another often-unknown bonus? Diamond District shops may be sitting on inventory they need to move and will give you a great deal when you disclose your absolute final price.
4. Don't Get Intimidated
The peddlers on 47th Street have a hustle and bustle attitude that can intimidate buyers. Your best bet is to stay focused and stick to your referral list. "A few years ago, the city enforced rules that peddlers are no longer allowed to be on the street propositioning people," says Poliseno. "If you are approached, you shouldn't be afraid to say, 'No, thank you,' or walk by them. Even when you've found the ring of your dreams, make sure you buy a certified stone from a credited laboratory such as GIA or EGL." Quality stones always come with certificates, and many of the diamonds have leaser inscriptions with the certificate number.
5. Get Creative
Some businesses, like Jupiter Jewelry, design, manufacture, polish, and set stones themselves, so they have more wiggle room in their budget than retail stores— and since they design a ring from start to finish, they can create exactly what you want. "Ninety percent of the jewelry sold in retail stores is actually manufactured in the district. You can find something very close your favorite designer ring for a fraction of the price," says Poliseno.
Your dream Tiffany setting, Cartier cut, and Harry Winston sparkle? Yes, that's possible when you shop on 47th Street!