Know Before You Buy - Close-up of Diamonds
Know Before You Buy - Close-up of pearls
Know Before You Buy - Woman trying a necklace
Buyer's Guide

The cut refers to how a diamond has been shaped and polished (e.g., round, pear-shaped, etc.). Its proportions describe how the various parts of the diamond, such as the depth and table, relate to each other. A well-cut diamond reflects light effectively due to its balanced and harmonious proportions and may often be more valuable than a poorly cut one, even if it has lower grades in the other characteristics.

Clarity is based on the presence of visible imperfections, called inclusions, within the diamond. Appraisers and diamond sellers use the following terms to grade the number, size, and location of inclusions within the diamond: Flawless (F1), Internally Flawless (IF); Very, very slight inclusions (V, VS1 & V VS2), Very slight inclusions (VS1 & VS2), Slight inclusions (SI1 & SI2), Imperfect with visible inclusions (I1, I2, I3). Diamonds with fewer inclusions are generally more valuable.

Color is an important factor in determining the value of a diamond. Naturally occurring colored diamonds, such as green, blue, and red, are rare and expensive. Most diamonds are "white," or colorless, with the finest and rarest being completely colorless. The GIA grades the color of diamonds using a scale ranging from D (colorless) to M (faint yellowish tint). Diamonds graded D, E, or F are considered to appear colorless, while grades G through J are "near colorless" but if well cut and set in jewelry, look colorless to the untrained eye.

The weight of diamonds is measured in carats, with one carat equal to 0.2 grams. Larger diamonds are more valuable per carat than smaller diamonds. The weight of a diamond must be accurate within 0.005 carats according to Federal Trade Commission rules.

Certification, or a diamond grading report, provides an objective assessment of characteristics of a diamond to determine the value of a diamond to help buyers make informed decisions. Issued by gemological labs, these reports include detailed information such as measurements and proportions, cut, color, clarity, and carat weight, and include a diagram showing the location and size of any inclusions or blemishes.

Lab-grown diamonds are diamonds that are created in a laboratory setting using advanced technological processes and are chemically, physically, and optically identical to naturally occurring diamonds. They can be produced using either the high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) or chemical vapor deposition (CVD) methods and are used in a range of applications, including jewelry, industrial cutting tools, and electronic devices. Lab-grown diamonds are generally cheaper than natural diamonds and are considered more ethically and environmentally responsible because they do not require the excavation of large amounts of earth. However, the lab-grown manufacturing process uses large amounts of energy and water, which can potentially contaminate groundwater if not properly managed. Some people may not value lab-grown diamonds as highly because they lack the sentimental value and emotional appeal of natural diamonds, which have a longer history and tradition and may appreciate in value over time. Natural diamonds may be more "authentic" to some and may be traced back to their source using provenance technology, although it may be difficult to ensure that they were not produced using unethical or environmentally damaging practices. Ultimately, the decision to choose a lab-grown or natural diamond will depend on the individual's priorities.

Some diamond manufacturers use techniques like fracture filling, irradiation, and external coatings to improve the appearance and value of diamonds with imperfections. Fracture filling is a process where a substance is infused into cracks in the diamond to improve its appearance, but it is not a permanent treatment and is not graded by gem labs like the GIA or GTL. These treatments are legal as long as they are disclosed to the buyer.

Shopping at New York City's 47th Street Diamond District is an exciting and rewarding experience. With so many independent, competing jewelers, all on the same block, it’s the perfect place to comparison shop. But do your research and don't be afraid to ask questions about color, cut, carat weight, clarity, and certification, or to seek explanations for price differences. By shopping around and getting a feel for the market, you'll be ready to make a confident and informed decision on the diamond of your dreams.

Rubies are hard, durable gemstones known for their deep red color caused by the presence of chromium in the mineral. They are typically found in shades of red ranging from pinkish to blood red, and the most valuable rubies are those with a vivid, deep red color known as "pigeon's blood." Rubies are often associated with love and passion and are a traditional gift for a 40th wedding anniversary.

Emeralds are valued for their bright green color and clarity. The highest quality are pure green with no yellow or blue hue and graded on a scale ranging from light to dark. Though the rarest emeralds have no inclusions at all, some inclusions are acceptable to knowledgeable buyers. When shopping for emeralds, consider the cut of the gemstone, which refers to the proportions used to produce brilliance, and the size of the stone. The carat weight of emeralds may not accurately reflect their size due to different gemstone densities.

Sapphires are formed with trace minerals such as iron and titanium, which give them their deep blue color. Flawless sapphires (no inclusions) are extremely rare and highly valued, while those with lighter colors and more inclusions are less valuable. When shopping for sapphires, it's best to look for stones with a medium to medium-dark color and relatively few inclusions that are not too visible.

Pearls are small, round objects formed by certain types of mollusks in response to an irritant inside their shells. They are made of layers of a substance called nacre and can be found in a variety of colors including white, cream, gold, and black. The most valuable pearls are perfectly round and have a deep, lustrous sheen. They can be found in the wild or cultivated by inserting a small bead or piece of shell into the mollusk and allowing it to produce a pearl around it.

Platinum is a strong, expensive metal that is harder, more scratch-resistant, and often purer than gold. A piece of jewelry can be marked "platinum" or with an abbreviation like PT, pt, or PLAT only if it is at least 95% pure platinum. If the jewelry is at least 75% pure platinum, the stamp must specify other metals in the alloy. The quality stamp and manufacturer's trademark should be present on platinum jewelry. Look for these marks when buying platinum jewelry to ensure the quality you are paying for.

Jewelry is often made from a mixture of gold and other metals, called an alloy, to make it stronger and more wear resistant. In its natural state, gold is bright yellow, but takes on different colors such as pink, red, green, and white when mixed with other metals. The purity of gold is measured in karats, ranging from 10 karats to 24 karats (pure gold). The karatage along with the manufacturer's registered trademark must be marked on the piece to indicate the accuracy of the gold content claim. Make sure any gold jewelry you buy have these marks to ensure that you are getting the quality you are paying for.

Colored gemstones have a long history as symbols of power and status, as indicators of personality traits, as charms to ward off evil, and as preservers of good health. In the past, certain gemstones like ruby, emerald, and sapphire were considered "precious" while others were labeled "semi-precious," but this distinction is not as commonly used now. In colored gemstones, color is the most important factor in determining value, with pure spectral colors being the most valuable. Carat weight is also an important factor, but clarity is not as significant as it is for diamonds. Flawless colored gemstones are rarer than flawless diamonds.

When visiting the 47th Street Diamond District, you may encounter individuals on the sidewalk who use aggressive or manipulative tactics to get you to enter their stores. These people are known as "hawkers."
It is strongly advised to steer clear of hawkers. While they pose no physical threat, hawkers are unregulated, often unscrupulous, and lack any of the accountability, ethical standards, oversight, or authenticity you’ll have when shopping with legitimate retailers.

While visiting the 47th Street Diamond District, you may see signs advertising discounts such as "20% Off," "50% Off," "80% Off," "Wholesale to the Public," "Discounted Prices," etc. in many exchanges and jewelry stores. The proximity to jewelry manufacturers and diamond dealers, as well as the intense competition, means you are always likely to get a better price than anywhere else. But some deals may be too good to be true.
To determine if the price is fair or realistic, it’s essential to shop around. Look for comparable items in different places, and don't hesitate to ask the jeweler to explain price differences between similar items. If you’re not satisfied with their answer, go elsewhere. When you know what you want and come prepared with the right information, every price is a bargain.

Jewelry shoppers should be informed about the merchant's refund or exchange policy. If no sign is posted, you are entitled to a refund within 20 days. On all jewelry purchases, consumers must be given a written sales slip that shows the total amount of the purchase, including a separate statement of sales tax, the date, and the business name and address of the merchant. The sales slip should also include all representations made in the sale of the item, including its type, kind, name, grade, quality, quantity, size, weight, color, character, or substance.

A written sales slip is your only proof of the claims the merchant has made to you. It is crucial to have one and to keep it safe. If you later find that any misrepresentation occurred, the sales slip gives you legal recourse. Without a written record of the merchant's assurances, any later dispute will become your word against the merchant's.

If you feel that you have been treated unfairly by 47th Street Diamond District jeweler, here are several ways to resolve the dispute:

  • Foremost, ALWAYS hold on to your receipt. It serves as your proof of purchase, and the very specific information it is required to contain will verify and authenticate your claim.
  • Try to resolve the dispute directly with the jeweler by returning to the store with your receipt and explaining your problem to the salesperson or the owner.
  • If the owner refuses to resolve the dispute, put the details of your complaint in writing and send it to the owner by certified mail, return receipt requested.
  • If the owner doesn't respond within two weeks, contact the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs hotline at (212) 487-4444 or write to the Department at 42 Broadway, New York, NY 10004.
  • If the dispute involves a business issue, you can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and they will work with the jeweler to try to resolve the issue and may provide mediation services if necessary.
  • If all other options have been exhausted and you feel the jewelry is fraudulent or you have fallen victim to false claims or misleading advertising, you can seek legal action against the jeweler.

It's important to approach any disputes in a calm and professional manner. Being hostile or aggressive with the jeweler may not only worsen the situation but also damage your credibility. Always try to have all documentation, receipts, and certificates handy when communicating with the jeweler, as it can be helpful to have evidence of your purchase.


Here are a few tips for selling your gold or diamond jewelry at a fair price in the 47th Street Diamond District:

  • Do your research: Before you go to the Diamond District, familiarize yourself with the current market prices for the type of jewelry you plan to sell. This will give you a better idea of what to expect when you're negotiating prices with buyers.
  • Check for authenticity: To know you are dealing with a reputable dealer when selling your jewelry, make sure the dealer has a properly displayed second-hand dealers license from the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.
  • Do NOT deal with hawkers. They will ask if you have jewelry to sell and will pressure you to sell it to a specific dealer. These individuals work on commission and will say anything to bring you in. In reality, most are unscrupulous, untrustworthy, and never have your best interests at heart.
  • Shop around: The Diamond District is home to many different jewelers and buyers, so take the time to visit a few different stores to get a sense of the prices and services they offer.
  • Be prepared to negotiate: The prices offered by jewelry buyers in the Diamond District are often negotiable, so be prepared to haggle to get the best deal possible.
  • Bring documentation: If you have any documentation, such as a certification or appraisal, for your jewelry, bring it with you. This can help establish the value of the pieces you're selling.
  • Be aware: When selling valuable items like jewelry, it's important to be cautious about your personal security. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid carrying large sums of cash or displaying expensive items in plain sight.

The following Jewelry Buyer’s Bill of Rights exists to protect you, and any reputable jeweler will know and honor them:

  • You have the right to a receipt for all purchases over $20, which includes the price, the tax amount and the legal name of the seller.
  • You have the right to a detailed receipt for purchases over $75, which includes the above information as well as a description of the article and its composition. In the case of diamonds, a receipt must include accurate diamond grading and carat weight information.
  • You have the right to know the jeweler’s refund and exchange policy before you make a purchase. Unless a different refund or exchange policy is clearly displayed, you are entitled by law to a refund if you return the item within 20 days.
  • You have the right to information disclosing any treatments or enhancements to the stone you purchase.
  • You have the right to pay the currently advertised price. A jeweler must live up to the price or discount advertised on a flyer or in the newspaper.
  • You have the right to file a complaint if you have a dispute with a jeweler. Call the Consumer Affairs Hotline at 311.