Official Guide to the History of the Diamond District in NYC

The Diamond District in NYC is a city block full of old-world charm and the most experienced and knowledgeable jewelers. In the heart of one of the biggest and most bustling cities in the world, the Diamond District in New York has withstood the constant changes of the surrounding city. Located between Times Square and Rockefeller Center, this single block of 47th Street in Midtown Manhattan has a rich history and an incredible story. Decades after it was first established, it continues to overcome challenges and remains the foremost diamond hub of the United States.

The History of the Diamond District in NYC

The history of the Diamond District in NYC began in 1795 on a Manhattan street called Maiden Lane. It was here that diamond merchants first established a base of operations to sell diamonds from all over the world to high society patrons. In the early 1900s, many financial establishments wanted a presence in the downtown area, and jewelers struggled to pay the ever-increasing rent. So, they began to collectively relocate to uptown Manhattan. Builders erected buildings on 47th Street that were specifically tailored to entice jewelers, allowing them to move with ease. This enabled them to re-establish a new area centered around the diamond and jewelry industry. By 1925, the Diamond District as we know it today was established.

In the 1940s, World War II and the invasion of many European countries caused countless individuals to flee to New York City to establish businesses, many of which included jewelry shops. Diamond District jewelers came from all over the world, including Amsterdam, Antwerp, Tel Aviv, and more. Over the last century, some things have changed about the Diamond District, but much remains the same.

The way diamond merchants still do business is surprisingly similar to decades ago, with a handshake as the official means of securing a deal. Although technology has advanced within the stores, diamond merchants from across the globe love to do business in the old-world “barter” type economy that continues to serve them well.

New York’s Diamond District Facts

Some of the most fascinating facts about the Diamond District relate to the way diamond merchants sell, buy, barter, and trade gemstones. The Smithsonian magazine compared the Diamond District to an “old world bazaar,” citing the securing of deals with handshakes and Yiddish blessings. It may seem risky in such a high-stakes industry, but it has worked for over a century and continues to be successful. It’s important to note that purchasing jewelry is not handled as casually, and diamond merchants rely heavily on family reputations, mutual trust, and industry-imposed sanctions that hold dishonest merchants accountable.  

In the Diamond District of NYC, stores are plentiful, with over 2,600 individual companies doing business in the city block. Many of these Diamond District jewelers are not singular storefronts but instead do their business within one of several jewelry exchanges located in the Diamond District. NYC’s best stores have a great reputation for selling quality pieces and providing excellent customer service.

Located among the best diamond stores in NYC is the Gemological Institute of America, or GIA. Its convenient location makes it the ideal place for budding diamantaires to hone their craft. It’s here that they learn how to grade and appraise diamonds, including creating a grading report and identifying the differences between real, quality diamonds and imitations. Jewelry professionals can also acquire an in-depth education in gemology, jewelry, design, and more. The GIA provides continuing education courses for already-certified experts so they can continue improving their expertise.

The Diamond District in NYC is the second-oldest area of its kind in the United States. The oldest jewelry district is called Jeweler’s Row, and it’s located in Philadelphia. Although it’s not quite as old as Jeweler’s Row, the Diamond District in New York is the largest diamond shopping district in the world, and it is, by far, the more prominent hub of diamond exchange in the US. It is estimated that about 90% of all diamonds that make their way into the United States come through NYC’s Diamond District first. Additionally, the daily transactions in the Diamond District are estimated to be around $400 million!

Although the history of the Diamond District is rich with trust-centered deals, technology has improved safety. The security and efficiency of this city block get better every year. Police officers have a large presence in the Diamond District, and the whole block is covered in security cameras, many of which were supplied by the Department of Homeland Security. Despite this, the area maintains its charm, boasting diamond-shaped streetlights on either end of the block, sparkling sidewalks (literally), and gorgeous Art Deco architecture that enhances the overall beauty and appeal.

FAQs about the Diamond District in New York

What is the Diamond District in New York?

The Diamond District is the world’s largest region of diamond exchange. It is home to diamond merchants who both sell and buy individual diamonds and other gemstones. It is also where countless retail jewelers and wholesalers do business and contains many independent jewelers. If you’re searching for where to buy wholesale jewelry in New York or looking for the best diamond stores in NYC, the Diamond District is your destination.

Where is the Diamond District in NYC?

The Diamond District is located in NYC’s Midtown Manhattan, on 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It’s between Times Square and Rockefeller Center and is easily recognized by its diamond-shaped streetlights, Art Deco architecture, and countless jewelry shops and diamond merchants.

Are diamonds cheaper in the Diamond District?

The price you’ll pay for a diamond in the Diamond District depends on a lot of things. Do your research before visiting a jewelry store or wholesale supplier. You want to know what to expect, what you’re looking for, and what a reasonable price might be. If you’re uncertain where to start or don’t have the time to do research, it’s best to visit a trustworthy and respected Diamond District jeweler to get honest, helpful assistance. 

Because of the wide variety and large quantity of diamonds available in the Diamond District, it is possible to find a diamond here at a lower price than you could elsewhere. In addition to price, you can be sure that the quality and selection of loose stones, diamond jewelry, or gemstone pieces you’ll find in the Diamond District in NYC is superior to anywhere else in the country.

Shop Roman Malakov a New York Jeweler

If you’re ready to make a trip to the Diamond District in New York, be sure to stop by Roman Malakov. The storefront is located right in the heart of this incredible city block, where you’ll find a wide selection and beautiful jewelry to delight and excite you. Contact the store and allow highly professional jewelers to serve you in-store, over the phone, or with a virtual consultation online.