If you are looking for diamond engagement rings, NYC offers more selection than any other city on the planet… and the Diamond District on 47th Street is epicenter of all the action. Before we name names in our “Top 10 Rated NYC Diamond District Stores Review,” it’s important that you walk onto Jewelers Row with your eyes wide open…
The NYC Diamond District operates within a set of rules that have not changed much since its 18th Century barter economy beginnings. Walk down 47th Street Jewelers Row and you will routinely see men dressed in traditional black Hasidic clothing with briefcases handcuffed to their wrists – moving from shop to shop and building to building. Look in these shops and you will see these Diamantaires (diamond merchants) with their jeweler’s loupes raised, examining inventory and speaking loudly in Yiddish, Russian, Hindi, Hebrew, Marathi, Rajasthani and other Slavic languages, occasionally locked in a heated negotiation trying to source a diamond for “their” special client.
It is precisely this barter economy that draws buyers to these NYC Diamond District Stores. There is something visceral about being in and around people haggling in an old-world way: hands flailing, voices raised and players walking away only to return a minute later to start again. In the heat of battle there will be a winner and there will be a loser (and of course that loser is not going to be you, right?!?).
Commercial law does not really exist among the merchants on Jewelers Row– at least as we know it. Intra-merchant transactions usually do not require credit lines or signed contracts, and a Diamantaire’s business and future is not based on standardized agreements, but on honoring their word. Keep your word and your network is secure and your financial future looks bright. Break your word to another Diamantaire and you are shunned, exiled, and pushed out of business by other industry participants. A lawyer is never called, it is just over…
Those same ‘honor rules’ don’t apply to customers like you. The trading bazaar rules that protect the Diamantaires from each other work because they are all quite knowledgeable, speak in ‘diamond shorthand’ and have decades of mutually beneficial financial interactions together. We are neophytes and, in comparison, know very little about diamonds. Unfortunately we are each a single transaction, they need several a day to make a decent living…
“Buyer beware” is screaming at you from every direction. If you are not careful you will pay full price, and bit more, and end up with less than you bargained for, ahem, so to speak.
First, understand that many diamond merchants in the District are hardworking professionals that are licensed, bonded and generational – they work on referrals and an excellent product offering is how they get those referrals. However, there are also some that are very unscrupulous.
Here is how an unscrupulous diamond merchant can tell if he is dealing with an easy mark or a tough negotiator.
The first two questions they ask you are: “what size diamond are you interested in and what shape are you looking for?”
Everyone has an answer to these. 95% of the time the answer is 1, 1 ½ or 2 carats and 75% of the time it is a round brilliant cut. These are completely harmless questions to answer.
The third and far more dangerous question is: “how much do you want to spend?!?”
What about the three “quality” questions of color, cut and clarity that come before THAT question??
If you get asked the money question before the quality question your antenna should go way up… If it happens simply say “well that depends on the color, cut, clarity and grading lab. Perhaps you should show me a [1 carat, d color, excellent cut, VS1 clarity, round diamond] and we can go from there. Note that the 4 c’s contained in the [brackets] are metrics you should know about the diamond you want to buy before you go – of course yours will be different than the bracketed example.
Q: What if all I know is the size and shape of the diamond and what I can afford?
Well you are not alone – that is what makes a novice in the NYC Diamond District such an easy target. There are over 1200 combinations of color, cut and clarity for any sized “jewelry grade” diamond. Most people hope that their jeweler will recommend the best value for the price, size and shape. Unfortunately that is not always the case on 47th Street.
Whether you know your exact 4C’s or not, we highly recommend going to our #1 recommended 2020/21 online diamond store, WhiteFlash and input your size, shape and price. WhiteFlash is not the cheapest online diamond store (you don’t want cheap – you’ll discover strange things later with those diamonds) but WhiteFlash is very competitive and they will give you a good price benchmark to take with you to 47th Street.
Start with WhiteFlash’s A CUT ABOVE® Super Ideal Cut Diamonds (links two paragraphs below). These are the best of the best cut and have the “Triple Ideal” cut from the American Gemological Society Laboratory, a well respected grading lab in the diamond business.
WhiteFlash has a fantastic system to examine the cut of each diamond. Instead of just showing you a magnified 3D image, they show you the diamond using technology: the first is an Ideal Scope, which shows light leakage. The second uses an ASET scope, which “paints” the dozens of facets different colors depending on their angle to show you the precision of the cut. And the third uses a Hearts and Arrows Scope to show you the hearts and arrow pattern on round brilliant diamonds.
Note there are no ‘A CUT ABOVE®’ diamonds available for shapes other than round and princess cut, so you will need to fine tune the 4Cs yourself for other shapes – not the end of the world, just a little more work.
Now that you know where the 4C’s of a high quality diamond in your price range should land, try this exercise again by adjusting the variables of color and clarity down (and up) one grade, but keeping the other variables constant. This will give you a good sense of price movement if your diamond dealer shows you a lesser diamond to accommodate your price. By the way, “cut” is the only man-made variable and because of this it has the least price movement. You should always get the best cut possible because cut determines the sparkle, scintillation, and light performance of a diamond and its movement up the quality curve is a bargain for what you get.
Because of the reputation of some of the diamond dealers on Jewelers Row, we optimized for trust and client satisfaction. If you do your homework online* ahead of time, you will know what an excellent price for a high quality diamond should look like.
There are over 1300 stores in the Diamond District in New York City. Some are at ground level and others are in the offices high above. Less than 50 of them carry a Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating of A+, and only about half of those are Accredited by the BBB.
Why is Accreditation Important?
A BBB Accreditation permits the Better Business Bureau to offer the store’s customers (i.e. you) dispute resolution services. BBB Accreditation also allows the store to display the Better Business Bureau A+ rating in and around their store, on their website and on their brochures. Financially, this means a lot to a jeweler in a ‘buyer beware’ market like the diamond market. Less than 3% of the stores in the NYC Diamond District have this accreditation and there is a dramatic increase in sales because of the trust factor of the BBB A+ logo. What is positive for you is that a BBB accredited store will defend the A+ rating even if it means dealing with the BBB if a customer is unhappy. A claim is almost always resolved and agreed by both parties, or the store will wear the scarlet letter of an unresolved claim. A few of these and the store loses its A+ rating. That is extremely bad for business.
A business can maintain its A+ rating and accreditation if the store is willing to resolve all customer complaints. But the fact is, customers who complain to the BBB are usually angry about a transaction and the store didn’t resolve the complaint before it was escalated. When doing the research for this report, we found stores in the “A category” (A+, A, and A-) had anywhere from zero to 55 complaints over the last 3 years. 55 complaints is a lot of resolution for an A category store! So, we added another layer, number of complaints.
Excellent – 0 or 1 complaint in the last three years
Good – 2 or 3 complaints in the last three years
Fair – 4 or 5 complaints in the last three years
If a NYC Diamond District store had zero or one complaint filed with the BBB in the last three years, we rated it excellent. Two or three and we rated it good, and four or five and we rated it fair. Over five and the store did not make our pool of candidates, even if all were eventually resolved.
A store that has been in business for decades has a stable referral base and a good reputation. It is exceedingly difficult to stay in business for generations if you are not doing the right thing by your customers. We show you how long each store has been in business on Jeweler’s Row.
YELP is less important than the BBB criteria because YELP ratings can be gamed through advertising and giveaways. For example, if a diamond dealer has 100 YELP ratings: five one-star ratings, 10 three-star ratings and 85 five-star ratings, they will have an overall five-star rating on YELP. You will have to dig deep to understand that this store has 5 unhappy customers out of 100, because the volume of ratings overall is positive. Still, a store that actively cultivates its YELP ratings tends to do the right thing to get the almighty five-star review. A favorable YELP rating combined with the Better Business Bureau data gives a belts and suspenders check on trustworthiness.
Many of the Top 10 NYC Diamond District stores in our review have been interviewed by us. Those that were non-responsive when we contacted them, no matter how good their data, were moved down. We identify if we’ve talked with them in their store write up below.
Check Price and Quality at Our 2020 Top Rated Online Diamond Store: WHITEFLASH.COM
30 Day Returns | One Year Buyback | BBB Pinnacle Award Winner | Featured in the New York Times
Okaaaay…. Now that we have just given you a lot of information, let’s get to the reason you are really here. To find out the best of the best in the New York City Diamond District, in our humble (but considered) opinion!
15 W 47th St #305, New York, NY 10036
When we went to the ID Jewelry store to meet management for our first review back in 2017 we were impressed. ID Jewelry had made our Top 10 list and the business’ family atmosphere was unique for Jewelers’ and the raving fans on YELP pointed to the fact that this was ones of the [best jewelry stores in the NYC Diamond District], but were they number one? At the time they were ranked #3 on our list and Yekutiel Davidov questioned why they were not number 1 (which I loved by the way). At the time it was because their return policy was not obvious to us. A few days later their policy was put front and center on their website. Their business is has an A+ rating and is actually has a 5 star customer rating (from 5 reviewers) on the Better Business Bureau website. Getting an A+ rating is hard, but getting 5 customers to go onto BBB and rate the store? None of the others had this.
It’s obvious to us that the team at ID Jewelry love what they do and do in fact put customers first. As far as their offering? Excellent. Stores that offer diamond engagement rings in NYC usually fall into two classes. Simple but elegant standardized settings or custom settings that boggle the mind. ID Jewelry has both. Make sure you checkout their store review here.
115 W 45th St #504, New York, NY 10036
Leigh Jay Nacht is know for his vintage and vintage design diamond engagement rings. Many of his rings have Old European Cut round diamonds or Old Mine Cut cushion diamonds. His offering is quite unique on Jewelers Row where diamantaires compete to provide the most brilliant flash at the lowest possible price. Leigh’s offering is simple, elegant, and takes us back to a time long ago every time we look at the purity of the LJN ring on the finger. Designs include Edwardian, Belle Epoque, 1930’s, Art Nouveau and Art Deco engagement rings.
Leigh’s offering may be the only one of its kind in the [Diamond District] and he was our #1 rated jeweler in our 2017 [Diamond District] Top 10 Review. He was close again in this review because his metrics have improved markedly. But the data pushed ID Jewelry way up. Still, if you are looking for a really special vintage old-world diamond engagement ring, you must speak to Leigh because he is clearly #1 in this category in the New York Diamond District and probably #1 in the United States.
Make sure you read his interview, store review and images of some of his wonderful offerings here.
45 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036
Iannelli Diamonds was founded in 1956 in Brooklyn, NY they have been a well-known and respected family business in the NYC Jewelry Industry ever since. The family moved to the NYC Diamond District in 1977 and they have been a strong influence in the diamond trade on 47th Street ever since.
Iannelli Diamonds specializes in Engagement Rings and is known for being straight-up, honest and easy to work with. When we met with the family this was quite obvious to us. Make sure you check out our interview with Joe Shovak here.
15 W 47th St #803, New York, NY 10036
Joseph David started the family business over 100 years ago. At some point Eli and Guy made the decision to leave the United States to join the family business in Johannesburg, South Africa. They worked there for several years with their father who ran a diamond factory in town. They learned the diamond trade from the ground up and opened DreamStone in 1998. It has been at the same location in Jewelers Row for over a decade.
Every Dreamstone piece is 100% custom made. This jumped out at us as we toured the showroom. Dreamstone also carriers its own inventory, sourced from the family business in South Africa. It’s not uncommon in the NYC Diamond District for jewelers to source diamonds from each another. Like virtually all diamonds on jewelers row, their diamonds are conflict free and GIA graded.
Read their interview with us here
44 West 47th Street, #GF16, New York, NY 10036
Jangmi is a new addition to our Top 10 list, and made it to the top half because of their overwhelming metrics. The Kim family owns Jangmi Jewelry and we could see them moving up further if we had the chance to meet them personally. They specialize in GIA graded diamonds, diamond wedding bands and engagement rings.
Jangmi is a member of New York Diamond Dealers Club. Membership in the NYDDC is rare among the diamond dealers on Jewelers Row and give the business access to a large pool of diamonds.
Please note their return policy was not obvious to us on their site.
19 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036
Ultimate Diamond is a 3rd generation family-run and operated business dating back to 1959. Ultimate is known for customer service and value. They count professional athletes and famous celebrities as well as college sweethearts among their customers base. They provide clients with exceptional guidance and design assistance in making any beautiful piece of jewelry.
Ultimate Diamond was first started by the late Mr. Kung Sr. when he brought his family and burgeoning pearl business over to America from Taiwan in 1959. He grew the business steadily over the decades until his son took over the business in the 1980’s. They offer exclusively GIA graded diamonds.
647 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10022
Bianca Jewelers was founded by Manuel and Irma Benzer, Bianca Jewelers still resides in the same location from over 50 years ago which we find amazing.
Bianca Jewelers specializes in custom engagement rings and fine jewelry, and offering services such as custom designs, insurance appraisals, jewelry restoration and repair as well as watch repairs.
One point to highlight is that their return policy is shorter than most of the others, so make note of this when you are deciding your options.
1 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036
The Malakov’s started as watch makers just after World War II. After mastering the watch trade, the Malakov brothers embarked into rare gems. Over time, the Malakov brothers had then established themselves as experts of the “Russian cut” standard of diamond cutting.
The family has been in the jewelry business for over 100 years and have mastered all the aspects of the trade, including diamond cutting, jewelry-making, retail, and wholesale operations. They strive to provide the highest standards of quality and service using principles of integrity, loyalty and client satisfaction.
Please note return policy. They say 7 to 10 business days on their website, but it’s not clear in which circumstance each applies.
580 5th Ave #349, New York, NY 10036
MDC Diamonds is the most “searched” jeweler on our site. This statistic alone means they are doing a lot of business. We like their selection, price and GIA diamonds, of course like the others-MDC has an A+ Better Business Bureau Rating, and a strong YELP Rating. Their respondent number is low, but good – which means they don’t manage YELP.
38 W 48th St, New York, NY 10036
This is the first time we have included a diamond dealer in our Top 10 review that is more online than offline, so we necessarily put them near the bottom oN a more traditional list. Still we understand the world has changed and think their metrics warrant being one of the top 10 jewelers in the NYC Diamond District.
Their story is especially inspiring The moment Anubh Shah decided to ask Slisha to marry him, he knew not just any ring would do. He wanted something that spoke to their past together and the future they would share. Anubh Shah set out to create the perfect ring himself, piece by piece, finding the diamonds and band she would wear forever. He realized the impersonal and overwhelming struggle shoppers face with traditional jewelers.
Through their own journey, Anubh Shah and Slisha found a better process. Technology enabled 3D printing and bridging the best of online and offline shopping was the solution. Now they share that experience with the world, helping everyone find their perfect match with confidence and with clarity.
This year we turned over more stones than ever before and spent roughly 100 hours on this review. We hope you enjoy the contents and make sure you tell them that Jewelers.NYC sent you! We do not receive any fees from these 10 jewelers whatsoever, but they will know that you have read the review and done your homework.
One final point worth noting… The difference between the top 10 players on this list is small and a few more years in business, a personal interview with us or even a few more YELP five star reviews could have moved their position. These are the best of the best so being, say #10 on this list means being #10 out of over 1300 NYC Diamond District Stores. In other words take time to get to know each of these dealers offerings from the safety of your own home because they are all special. Also, really important – don’t forget to get a competitive benchmark price at WhiteFlash.com. Most importantly enjoy the process – this is a very special gift and deserves the attention that you have given it.
** Very Important – Return Policies
Please note that most return policies state that if a piece has been worn or altered in anyway the piece is usually not returnable. Most also say that “custom pieces” are not returnable. So, check if your custom work voids the return policy. It is also worth noting that return policies change over time, so what’s show as of the writing of this report may not be current when you go to the store. Finally, each store has different “exceptions” to its policy so make sure you review and understand your store’s current policy and limitations (and get it in writing) before you buy.
Thank you for reading our Top 10 Rated NYC Diamond District Stores for 2020 Review.