by Alia Tawil


47th Street BID:
The Diamond District

“I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.” - Mae West

Like the proverbial diamond in the rough, Manhattan’s Diamond District surfaces in the midst of the busy city with an undeniable ability to detour unsuspecting passers-by. At each end of the block, two enormous steel spears topped with pilates-ball sized diamonds herald the entrance to the Diamond District. Beyond these Valkyrian gates, both sides of the street are lined with retail jewelers whose window displays burn brighter than the lights of Broadway. And like spotting the entire Off-Broadway cast of Naked Boys Singing in costume, you may just have to stop and stare.

Populated by over 2600 retailers, the district sees approximately 90 percent of the diamonds entering the United States. Anyone fortunate enough to stumble upon this shimmering stretch of sidewalk would do well to bring the Buyer’s Bill of Rights and a pair of sunglasses to refract the glare. From watchbands to wedding rings, this area presents the ideal location for selling, trading, buying, and repairing fine diamond jewelry. Along with individual retailers, the block boasts 25 jewelry exchanges. Each exchange holds up to 100 different businesses, each with their own set of inventory. So if you consider yourself a bargain shopper, you can compare prices all day in the same place and walk away without wondering if there was a better deal elsewhere.

Unlike Chinatown’s designer bag dealers, you won’t have to watch for cut-throat competing between vendors. In 1997, the district’s business owners and landlords formed the 47th Street BID (Business Improvement District). Their crack at increasing the district’s economic potential began with the ambience. The not-for-profit organization installed better street lights and floral landscaping and persisted to develop one of the highest-rated sanitation systems in the city. This collective effort dramatically improved the shopping experience for both curious browsers and serious stone hunters.

Settled in the heart of Midtown, the district is located on 47th Street between 5th Ave and the 6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas). With the theatre district only a block away, you can turn shopping for new jewelry or selling your own into an evening on the town. If you prefer to skip the slapstick of Spamalot or “All That Jazz” in Chicago, you can shop on 5th Ave. and visit the nearby Rockefeller Center for some sightseeing.

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