As a travel writer and one time columnist for the Toronto Star newspaper (column was entitled “Shopping Around the World”), my assessment is that travel and shopping go hand in hand. Thus, when I’m in a city known for a certain commodity I seek out the best and most reputable deals. In Paris, my quest was to find a talented (and let’s-not-break-the-Euro bank) hair stylist. When in the Dominican Republic, I sought out cigars.
Most recently, while in New York, I visited W. 47th Street with one goal in mind: to find a good, honest diamond merchant. To say walking from 6th Avenue onto 47th Street was intimidating would be a Texas-sized understatement. Here’s the scene. Innumerable storefronts selling and buying diamonds, the street lined with shouting hawkers, signage warning against disreputable practices, high-profile police presence and an untranslatable ongoing chatter between on-the-street hawkers and would-be buyers. Translation: I was out of my element.
But, as a journalist who visited with the goal of writing about the experience, I came armed with knowledge. When I decided to make my 47th Street trek, I put out the FB word: “Any recommendations for a good, honest diamond merchant,” and endorsements for the very same merchant came from two FB followers. That suggestion: R&R Jewelers at 26 W. 47th Street, 212-764-7211. Around since 1994 and owned by brothers Rami and Robert, my visit didn’t disappoint.
Rami led me through a bit of “diamond” education:
~ Four “C’s”: cut, color, clarity, carat
~ Taught me the art of accessing the quality of a diamond by looking at it through the loupe (pronounced “loop”). Here’s the drill: 1. Hold the diamond in your fingers - Use your thumb and forefinger of your left hand (right if left handed) to pick up the diamond around the outer perimeter (called the girdle), avoiding any fingerprints on the flat surfaces (facets). 2. Brace your hands together - Slowly put the loupe up to one eye, touching your eyelashes (note: close the other eye). Steady your loupe hand against your cheek. Then hold up the diamond, moving it toward the loupe until it comes into focus. 3. Look for flaws - Under this professional scope, they will be very noticeable.
Photos by Cynthia Dial
The process was not a rushed one and during it, Rami become a trusted friend. He gave me the information I sought from an exploratory trip along New York’s 47th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. Bottom line: I’ll be back.
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