You Don't Actually Have a Friend on 47th Street
It happens somewhat regularly in our jewelry showrooms. We’ll be chatting with a client at any stage in the jewelry selection process. Doesn’t matter if we’ve just said “Hello, how are you?” or if we’re finalizing payment methods. This client informs us they have a friend – or an uncle, a cousin, a “guy” – on 47th street. Said “guy” can undoubtedly beat our price, selection, or quality.
They’re referring, of course, to 47th street in Boca Raton North (aka New York.) 47th street is home to the most famous diamond district in the world, and some of the largest jewelry exchanges can be found along the sidewalks of bustling 47th street. When a client tells us they “know a guy” there, we don’t doubt it. Our rich landscape of transplanted New Englanders who wised up and ditched their snow shovels for Gucci flip flops makes us sure of it.
But whether their guy has their best interests at heart isn’t even a question for us. Unless it really is the client’s family member (which makes no sense, because they wouldn’t shop with us then) their guy is just another part of the 47th street fabric. And as recent news demonstrates, the fabric could use a good cleaning.
Reports of customers getting scammed on 47th street – the most high profile, of course, is this recent case – is nothing new. Every scam in the modern jewelry world that exists originated on 47th street.
There’s no special deals to be had here, the stalls at the jewelry exchanges still set their prices the same way the rest of the jewelry market does. The sellers with corner windows or prime real estate don’t need to grant you a great deal – they’re selling vintage Van Cleef & Arpels you can’t find anywhere else.
And when it comes to loose diamonds, you’re not entering the magical Costco of diamonds. You’re still going to pay retail – you’ll just do so from someone you’ve likely never met before.
Where should you go to get a deal? – You are never going to find a “deal” on 47th street. At least not one that you couldn’t find anywhere else, for a lot less hassle, literally. Expect to go into the 47th street exchanges with the mentality of buying a used car. Except the used car salesmen from the lot across the street won’t think twice about shouting at you and stealing you as a customer from the guy next to them.
But again, you’re not going to get an exceptionally good deal. The prices just don’t vary that greatly, and when they do it’s time to use your common sense: you aren’t getting what you think you’re buying. The recent lawsuit proves that you might not even get what you’re paying for. Forged diamond papers, undisclosed gemstone treatments, and straight up fakes abound. Especially all those candy-colored Schlumberger enamel pieces. Fakes are 5 times more plentiful than the real deal with those pieces.
Instead, get a good deal from your local jeweler. You know why you heard about this lawsuit? Because that jeweler likely makes a living trading in fakes. This one lawsuit is just the first time they got busted and the customer decided to take it as far as they could (rightfully so.)
Do you know why you don’t hear about this everyday from your own local jewelers? Because that scam is only possible in a highly saturated, fast-paced and somewhat unregulated market. A jeweler with a longstanding showroom – a much heftier investment than a spot at the exchange – stakes their living and their legacy on reputation. A good reputation includes favorable opinions about customer experience, the jewelers’ pricing, and of course their expertise.
So if a customer had the awful experience of spending a fortune on fake or subpar goods from us, we would die of embarrassment, and so would our business. If we found out a gem we sold was fake, had undisclosed treatments or forged papers it damages both our reputation for excellence and expertise. We would refund our customer’s money, no questions asked, and offer our deepest apologies (and likely a hefty discount on any other authentic items the customer had their eye on.)
The incentives for honesty and quality on 47th street are low. The vast majority of shoppers are tourists, one off buyers the sellers will never see again. Why would they roll out the red carpet? Why give this stranger a fantastic, mythical discount? And for the unscrupulous dealers, why even bother selling them the real deal?
Who are you going to trust, the jeweler you met on a 47th street whim or the one who you see at the Boca Beach club with your families every weekend? One of these is truly your “guy.” The other is faking one of three things: his discount, his affection for you, or – worst case – his wares.