New York Diamond District Shopping Guide

Diamond District NYC


Many shoppers will attest that the New York Diamond District still remains one of the world’s top destinations for engagement rings and fine diamond jewelry at tremendous value. However, with nearly 2,600 jewelry retailers, manufacturers and dealers condensed within a one block radius, navigating through the hustle and bustle to find the best deals and the most reputable jewelers can be a challenge for some. As long time Diamond District jewelers and with Firenze Jewels’ Jeffrey Levin serving as chairman of the 47th St BID for 16 consecutive years, we’ve created this guide to offer unique insight into shopping at the world’s famed diamond center.

1.  Pre-shopping
If you haven’t done so already, you’re going to want to familiarize yourself with The 4 C’s. These are the fundamentals to finding the best quality diamond within your budget. Some shops in the Diamond District also have websites where most of their jewelry inventory is displayed. Use them to your advantage. Read about a store’s policies, how long they’ve been in business and their Better Business Bureau accreditation. View the styles of jewelry and rings they carry to get a sense of what you’re looking for (halo? antique style? pavé?). A few stores also display loose diamond inventory online. If you find something that interests you, be sure to make an appointment in advance to reserve the diamond(s) for a private viewing as many times they aren’t readily available on the premises.  This will save you time.

2.   Browse and compare
Upon arrival, it’s easy to get a little overwhelmed. Have a list handy of the merchants you’ve researched and thoroughly vetted. Feel free to glance at other stores that catch your fancy, but keep in mind that policies vary from shop to shop. Are all their diamonds 100% natural? What’s the jeweler’s stance on ethical diamond sourcing?  What trade organizations do they belong to? During your visit, don’t be lured by signs such as “50% off”, “Wholesale to the Public”, “Discounted Prices” ect.. As the old adage goes: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. The only way of really knowing if you got a good deal is to shop comparable items and ask questions. Always go with your gut instinct.

3.   What to avoid
Don’t do business with hawkers. It’s no secret; on occasion, the Diamond District has received negative press about salespeople who openly solicit shoppers on the sidewalk. You’ll find them as much of a nuisance as we do. It’s been an on-going conflict in the area. On the same note, avoid aggressive salespeople you may encounter. If at any point in time you feel uncomfortable, simply move on to the next shop or exchange.

4.   What to look for
Be certain the diamond you’re buying is certified by a renowned grading institution such as the Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A) or European Gemological Laboratory (E.G.L.).  Familiarize yourself with what the certifications should look like. At any shop you visit, a jeweler should be able to provide you with at least a 10x magnification loupe or microscope. Upon examining the diamond, verify that inclusions (if any) correlate with what is shown on the certificate.

5.   Sealing the deal
Have a written copy of the store’s return or exchange policy. For an honest third party appraisal, be sure to find a truly independent appraiser who is not connected with any diamond sellers and does not sell diamond or jewelry. Lastly, it’s important to obtain a copy of the jeweler’s appraisal (normally provided free of charge) and insist the merchant put all jewelry claims on the sales slip.


We hope the information above helps in your Diamond District shopping experience and makes the whole engagement ring buying process a little less intimidating. Happy diamond hunting!

Video: Simon G Jewelry Behind the Scenes

In this behind the scenes video tour, fine jewelry designer Simon G describes how their heirloom quality pieces are created and the lengthy process in which they go through before reaching the hands of a customer. Starting off with just a rough sketch whether it is a ring, earring, bracelet or pendant, the idea is then followed by dozens of other sketches until a final design is approved. Bringing the sketch into a 3D format, a Computer Aided Design (CAD) model is used to examine every aspect of the design. During this phase is where countless hours are spent reviewing every detail ranging from the stones to the settings until a final consensus is reached.

As the piece transitions from an idea to reality, Simon G maintains 10 quality control stations, one after each phase of manufacturing. In order to achieve their signature look, they alloy their own metals, working in platinum and palladium or platinum and iridium for enhanced durability. When working with white gold, a piece is alloyed with palladium to enhance the longevity of the color and minimize the allergy to white gold. They find these methods are also ideal for intricate bead-work, filigree and engraving.

Once the ring is cast, and the diamonds are chosen, one of the most difficult parts of the job involves uniting the two together. All diamonds no matter how big or small are hand set under a microscope by a master jeweler. This ensures quality, security as well as that even the smallest of micro-pave diamonds brilliantly reflect the most amount of light. Simon G maintains a host of specialists within their specialists. Some diamond setters work on channel-settings only, others on pave-settings and others focus on the prongs.

After the piece is complete, it makes its way through quality control and polished by hand once again. It is then laser engraved with a unique serial number and a Simon G. signature. “I’m extremely picky” says Simon G. Before the pieces are finally shipped out, they are examined under a 15X microscope at an additional 2 quality control stations. While the process may seem lengthy and tedious, this all ensures the highest quality hand-crafted piece is delivered with its own unique look and feel.

5 Tips To Keep Your Engagement and Wedding Rings Sparkling

engagement and wedding rings

Perhaps no other jewelry you purchase will have greater sentimental value and be worn more often than your engagement and wedding rings. As timeless symbols of your love and commitment to one another, it’s only natural that you want to take the utmost greatest care of them.

1) Protection: Be gentle to your rings – It is advised to remove your rings before potentially undertaking any heavy work, gardening or dealing with harsh chemicals. Despite being incredibly strong, gemstones and even diamonds can chip or crack if accidentally struck too hard.

2) Upkeep: Keep your rings scratch free – All precious metals will eventually get scratched over time and can be brought to any professional jeweler to be buffed and polished. If your rings are made of white gold, your jeweler may also suggest that they be re-plated. This is normal as white gold is an alloy with a yellow gold base; it gets its white color from being plated in rhodium. After being buffed, the ring may begin returning to its natural gold color. If you’ve purchased platinum wedding bands, they can be polished back to their original condition. Platinum is naturally white, so no upkeep is needed to retain its luster.

3) Inspection: Watch out for loose diamonds – For peace of mind, have your jeweler occasionally inspect her engagement ring to ensure the stones are securely in place. It’s not uncommon for diamonds to come loose with everyday wear and tear. We generally recommend an annual inspection. However, depending on her lifestyle and the ring’s metal type, this may need to be done more or less frequently. Because of its density, a platinum setting will hold stones most securely in place.

4) Cleaning: Let those diamonds sparkle – The maximum brilliance of her diamonds can be maintained by keeping the ring clean. This can easily be done by soaking the ring in a mild solution of soap and warm water or a jewelry cleaning solution and gently rubbing dry with a soft cloth. Do not do perform this near a sink as you may risk the ring falling down the drain! For a more thorough cleansing, take the wedding and engagement ring to your jeweler.

5) Storage: Keep your rings safe – Store your pieces in a jewelry box, individually lined compartment or chamois bag when not being worn. Ensure that they are carefully placed separately to avoid the diamonds from rubbing against other pieces of jewelery which may produce a scratch.

5 Reasons To Make Your Next Jewelry Purchase Online



As millions of people become more comfortable with shopping online each passing year, the stigmas of what shouldn’t be bought on the internet continue to diminish. Whether it’s the latest sleek LCD TV or designer clothes, more people are turning to the internet for high end items. Diamond jewelry is no exception. Here’s 5 reasons why your next jewelry purchase should be made online:

1) Your time is precious. Shopping for jewelry online offers you the possibility to look at hundreds of pieces without going from store to store searching for that perfect diamond engagement ring. No need to worry about traffic, long lines, bad weather and especially the inevitable rush during the upcoming holiday season.

2) Many of the more developed jewelry websites present their products in a professional manner allowing you to make a better and well informed buying decision between 2 pieces or another competitor.

3) If you want a wider selection to choose from, browsing a jeweler’s online gallery lets you see all of their unique designer pieces, even ones that may be out of stock. Don’t let that perfect diamond necklace slip away because someone else got to it first. Ask the jeweler if the specific piece you are looking for can be special ordered.

4) In the comparison shopping age that we live in, many times you will be able to find reviews, ratings and/or testimonials by other real clients about a company online. This information is invaluable before proceeding with your purchase. It’s something that would be harder to gather when window shopping at other brick and mortar jewelers.

5) Last but certainly not least, due to the highly competitive nature of the internet, you’ll very likely find stunning diamond jewelry pieces being sold online below retail price; and who doesn’t love a bargain?


10 Tips On Creating A Memorable Wedding Proposal


1. Make sure you’ve found the right person
It sounds obvious to most people, but marriage is not something that you want enter on impulse or with some doubts. Hopefully, you have thought long and hard about your mutual feelings, goals and dreams. You might be crazy for each other, but if she wants children and you don’t, then your marriage may already begin on a shaky foundation. If the two of you have very different values or want different things out of life, then you will probably spend a lot of time arguing. Do some soul-searching before entering this lifelong commitment.

2. Know that timing matters
There is no standard guideline that will tell you when is the best time to “pop the question”, but if you are already thinking about proposing a few weeks after meeting her, then you should slow down. If she is going through a particularly difficult time in life or is stressed with personal matters, it would be best to postpone your proposal until her life becomes a little less overwhelmed. The best time to propose marriage is after you’ve been committed to one another over an extended period of time. Ideally, you should have already talked about marriage and a possible future together and the both of you have a good understanding of what the other is looking for in a long-term partner. However, make sure not to wait too long. A diamond is forever, but she will not wait around that long. If you’re finding it hard to make that commitment, fire up the courage within you and go for it!

3. Keep your plans closely guarded
It only takes one person to “spill the beans”, so if you plan on keeping the proposal a surprise, only tell a select few that you trust with utmost certainty(if you must). It is custom in some cultures to ask for the parents’ blessings before proposing. If you decide on doing this in advance, be sure not to wait too long to propose after. The longer you wait, the higher the likelihood is that she may accidentally find out.

4. Give her the ring of her dreams
Some people are very particular about the type of ring they like in terms of style and functionality. Know the type of person that she is and decide in advance whether you want to pick the ring out together or keep it a surprise. If you decide to do the latter, there are many ways of finding out what style diamond and ring she likes without asking her directly. If she has made any comments about specific jewelry while passing by a jewelry store or browsing online, be aware of the style and diamond cut of the item. Pay attention to any jewelry related magazines she has been looking at or has laying around. You can also find clues by looking at the current jewelry she wears or you can even casually ask some of her friends and family that know her best. In either case, you should know
how to buy a diamond.

5. Choose a jeweler with a great reputation
Make sure the jeweler you are dealing with has been in business for many years. A ring is a big investment and you want to be comfortable and confident with your purchase. The last thing you need on this joyous occasion is to stress or worry over the ring.

6. Insure the diamond
This is one of the first things you should do after purchasing the engagement ring. If the ring you’ve bought is expensive, you may want to make sure you protect your investment. Most home insurance policies cover up to a certain amount. Find out from an insurance company what it will cost.

7. Stay within your financial capacity
You have a wide range of options when it comes to purchasing an engagement ring and an infinite number of options when it comes to setting the stage for your proposal. You want to impress the woman you love and show her that you care, but at the same time you don’t want to overextend yourself financially, so it is important to reach a delicate balance. How much should you spend you ask? The general accepted guideline for purchasing a diamond engagement ring is two months’ salary. This number may or may not work for you but it’s a good place to begin. Plan in advance to determine what you can afford and then make the right decision.

8. How to set the stage
You need to consider the type of woman that she is when thinking about how and where to propose. Is she a hopeless romantic? Is she bold, unusual or extravagant? Your proposal should reflect this and it should play a part in deciding on whether something intimate and one on one or something more public will win her heart. The place that you decide on should have special meaning to the both of you. It could be the place that you both first met, or somewhere that you’ve both always wanted to be – from your favorite restaurant to the white sanded beaches of Barbados.

9. Expect the unexpected
If you’re planning a wedding proposal during a tropical weekend get away but severe storms makes the trip/moment impossible or if you decided to do it at your favorite restaurant but can’t get a reservation that day, you’ll have to reschedule – or come up with a backup plan. Nothing in life ever happens exactly as we plan it and this is definitely no exception. Think of this as a rehearsal for your wedding which will probably have a surprise or two as well. There’s always the chance that she might say “no”, but don’t get upset. Talk to her and find out what she’s feeling and thinking. Maybe she needs more time or maybe she is not the right girl for you. It’s better to talk things out early on than to end up marrying the wrong person.

10. Announce your engagement and celebrate!
Once she does say “yes”, telling everyone else the good news would naturally be the next thing to do. If you have not already told her parents, make sure you speak with them first. If either of you have any children from a previous marriage; now would also be the time to talk with them if they don’t already know. Also, if either of you have a previous spouse, it would be best to notify them, both as courtesy and to resolve any unsettled legal matters. It is custom to arrange a meeting between her parents and yours soon after getting engaged. Remember to relax, have fun and make it a day to remember for the both of you!


Platinum’s Appeal

At one point, gold wedding rings were the option. But recently platinum has grown tremendous in popularity. Platinum is more precious than gold, and has other advantages over gold as well.
Platinum wedding rings are elegant.  Platinum was often mixed with gold, but today you can find wedding rings of pure platinum. Polished platinum sparkles as much as gold.  Platinum is a durable metal, and your active lifestyle will not get in the way of wearing a platinum ring.

Given that platinum wedding rings have a very modern look, the best styles are elegant, but simple.  A “comfort fit” is curved slightly in the inside, and most men find them a good choice since a ring is worn more then anything else that adorns the body.  Platinum is heavier than gold which is often the main reason men choose them over gold.  Remember that many men love Swiss sports watches for the same “weighty” reason.
You will pay a premium for platinum.  One reason some buyers go with gold is they are concerned they will lose their ring, and want to be able to replace it less expensively.  Do keep in mind that an engagement ring is not like a set of car keys.  You will grow to love it more and more with each passing year, as you do your partner, and will have a magnetic connection to it.  That may mean that IF you take it off, you will have a brilliant system for making sure your ring is never lost.

Brief History of the Diamond Engagement Ring

In 1993, a National Jeweler’s study discovered that over forty percent of consumers planned to buy a diamond that was at least one carat.  A year later, a large study sponsored by Conde Naste showed the average cost of a wedding ring was $3,576, amounting to sixteen percent of what an average couple spent on their wedding.  More recently, DeBeers’ found that four of five brides are given diamond engagement rings.

The diamond engagement ring finds its origins with the marriage of Maximilian I to Mary of Burgundy in 1477. In modern time, It was unusual to find diamond rings prior to 1870.  From that point on, and initially because of large discoveries in South African mines, diamond jewels became increasingly popular until the Great Depression caused a huge drop in the numbers of marriages.  DeBeers was the driving force in making diamonds hugely popular, and their success landed just after the end of World War II.  Their moto, “A Diamond Is Forever” is still a mantra for why diamonds are such an important part of a marriage as we move beyond 2008.

engagement ring, diamond