Saturday, April 20, 2013

How to Buy Diamonds (and Gold) in Los Angeles and New York City

In a recent post, I casually mentioned that the NYC jewelery district and the downtown Los Angeles jewelry district were two of the best places to buy  diamonds. Since then I have received a number of emails requesting information about how to buy diamonds in these districts.

I am not an expert in diamonds, but here is what I know.

West 47th in Manhattan, between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas has one of the largest concentration of diamond dealers in the world. The west coast equivalent is the downtown Los Angeles jewelry district that roughly starts at South Hill St between West 7th street and West 3rd Street.

If you are spending $5,000 or more on a diamond, it would make sense for you to fly into one of these districts for three days and two nights and do some serious shopping. The hotel prices in downtown Los Angeles will only be a fraction of NYC hotel prices, so if the air fare is approximately the same, it makes sense to head west. If you are in driving distance of either district, then there is little reason to buy a diamond elsewhere.

Both districts have dealers that sell diamonds at wholesale prices. You will get much more for your money than at a retail store, both in quality and size. However, you must do your research. Some of the dealers are very honest and a pleasure to deal with, others will take advantage of you if they can.

Before going, I would do some research on how diamonds are graded. Learn the four basics about color, clarity, cut and carat-weight. Then I would start shopping by asking dealers what they have to offer. What most dealers in the district will do is offer you a diamond based off of "Rapp Prices." The Rapp prices are short for the prices on the Rappaport Report, which is a daily (Monday through Friday) report for the price of diamonds based on the 4 Cs. You will never get close to the discount off of Rapp prices anywhere else as you will at these districts.  But again shop around, ask questions at one dealer and then go to another dealer to confirm the information.

If you are nervous about what all the dealers are telling you about their diamond, then you might want to consider buying a certified diamond. There are a number of different organizations that grade and certify diamonds. GIA has the reputation for being the toughest grader, so the price for GIA certified diamonds are the most expensive.

As you go from dealer to dealer, you will realize that each dealer tends to have a specialty. In Los Angeles, for example, you will find that many of the Asian dealers will carry smaller but very high quality diamonds. As Asian buyers tend to prefer very highly graded diamonds.

In the past, I have bought large diamonds of poorer quality, and smaller diamonds of higher quality (depending on the purpose). I have bought GIA certified diamonds and non-certified diamonds. It's all great fun to me.

The best advice I can give though is to talk to as many dealers as possible and see what one dealer will say about a diamond offered by another. Don't be afraid to take notes.

Finally, the trade off between size and quality is a personal thing. There is a difference in the brilliance of a very good quality diamond and a very poor quality diamond, but in the middle, I personally consider size more important as long as the diamond seems to reflect light well to the naked eye. There are more details about diamonds here.

As for gold and silver, there are decent dealers in both NYC and the Los Angeles jewelry districts.

When I go to buy gold or silver from these dealers, I always go to the website and print out the prices for gold and silver coins shown.  I consider these market prices and am happy if I get a price from the dealers that is close to the Kitco prices.

Robert Wenzel
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  1. My dad had a new wedding band and engagement stone set made for my mom for their 30th wedding anniversary and found an Armenian couple in LA's diamond district. I was living in the area at the time, so my mom and I went downtown to their workshop. While I would caution anyone who arrives here against expecting to be impressed by the locale, I must say that these folks delivered! The set is stunning, elegant, and about 40% of what my dad was quoted by his long-time jeweler (in NE Ohio, no less)! My dad was from India where jewelry is an important part of the culture, so he knew a thing or two about precious stones.

  2. Hi Robert. Thanks for the link! If you ever need any help buying diamonds in the future, please don't hesitate to hit me up for some advice.

    Ira Weissman

  3. I am a jewelery lover. We often think many times when we decide to buy jewelry. Thanks for an informative blog and sharing your tips on how to buy diamonds and jewelry. Keep Posting.

  4. a good guide to buy jewelry appraisals.. really helpful post.. thank you for sharing ideas..

  5. Don't leave out Chicago! Jewelers Row is a great place to spend some time if you don't like the NY or LA scene. Located downtown on Wabash Ave, East of State Street between Washington and Monroe. Good idea to read up on diamonds first so that you at least know what you are looking for. I ended up going with Dimend Scaazi and got a great deal.

  6. On the off chance that you go to the crossing point of seventh & Hill Streets in downtown Los Angeles,you'll be encompassed by jewelry stores/vendors on each side.I regularly go to the St.Vincent Jewelry Center and do the vast majority of my shopping in there,however I've been baited to a few of the other jewelry centers too.

  7. Save your precious time and gives your selection a preference of your favorite handmade jewelry without getting yourself out of your home or office, you could surf the internet online jewelry shops which have every piece of information about the jewelry. Thanks for your article.

  8. gold diamond earrings always appeal me so I purchase it from my local store and wear it

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