Even if you’re not shopping for a diamond engagement ring, gold wedding band, or gemstone, a foray into the Diamond District on West 47th Street reveals a fascinating side of New York commerce. And if you are in the market for high-quality, well- priced jewelry, you’ve come to the right place. More than 2,500 independent businesses operate in the district, in street-level shops filled with glittering jewels, cellar workshops, and a glossy new skyscraper, the International Gem Tower. Many of the shops have been doing business since the 1930s and 40s, when Orthodox Jews fled the Nazi invasion of such European diamond centers as Antwerp and Amsterdam.
Shops are generally open Mon–Fri 9am–5pm. Very few will take checks, and many offer better deals if you pay cash. You may well feel a bit out of your depth entering the warren of dealers, so do a little online preparation before you hit the pavement. The Jewelers Vigilance Committee, www.jvclegal.org, provides a useful checklist of what to look for when buying fine jewelry, and the Gemological Institute of America, www.gia.edu, offers an online tutorial in diamond-buying.
Synagogues and restaurants are tucked away above shops and arcades. Taam-Tov specializes in such Central Asian dishes as golubsy, cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and meat, while the Diamond Dairy Kosher Luncheonette serves the best cheese blintzes in the city.