Alvin Mbwambo


This webpage project was created in partial completion for Gemstone and Gemology course in May 2008 at Emporia State University. The assignment was to demonstrate knowledge on a gemstone or other process dealing with jewelry.

Image taken from:
Photo by Chris Ruvolo, 2007-03-13, New York City's
Diamond District at 5th Avenue and 47th Street.


Diamonds are a treasure of nature that have historic and current importance based on their physical, chemical, and optical properties. Diamond is one of the crystalline forms of carbon (www.e6.com/e6/page.jsp?pageid=600401010). It is known to the public as a gemstone, and it is the physically hardest mineral known on Earth. This hardness creates a mineral that can take an exceptional polish as a faceted stone or cut through metals with ease. In addition to an appreciation for its beauty as a gem, diamond is widely used as an abrasive in industry. I will use this webpage to introduce where and how diamonds are moved from rough to finished products.

There are fewer than 200 people authorized to buy rough diamonds through De Beers (www.diamondtutorials.com/articles/diamonds.tutorials/32/The_Diamond_Market.html). These designated buyers are called sightholders, who tend to meet in London, England; Mumbai, India; Ramat Gan, Israel; Johannesburg, South Africa; Antwerp, Belgium; and New York City, NY, USA (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond_District,_Manhattan). They trade diamonds through organizations known as The Syndicate, the Central Selling Organization, the Diamond Trading Company, the Antwerp World Diamond Center; here sightholders will sit across from each other to buy and sell diamonds- rough, polished and industrial -often through a formal contract of a simple handshake (www.diamondtutorials.com/articles/diamonds.tutorials/32/The_Diamond_Market.html). Diamonds pass through many hands from the time they are mined from the the ground to when they are fashioned and seen in the jewelry stores, such as those located in Diamond District in New York City!

The Diamond District is believed to be the world's largest shopping district for diamonds and jewelry (www.diamonddistrict.org/home.html). It located on West 47th Street between Fifth Avenue and the Avenue of the Americans (Sixth Avenue) in midtown Manhattan. Map views are available from Google map, WikiMapia map, Flash Earth, and OpenStreetMap. Map and photos can be seen at Planet Eye, where you can see the Diamond District area is located one block south of Rockefeller Center, three blocks south of Radio City Music Hall and St Patrick's Cathedral, and one block east of the Broadway Theater District (www.diamonddistrict.org/home.html)!

Diamond dealers were in New York City in the 1920s but moved to the present Diamond District in the 1940s. It had a huge population growth when...

"the Nazis invaded Holland and Belgium, forcing thousands of Orthodox Jews in the diamond business to flee Antwerp and Amsterdam and settle in New York City. Most of them remained after World War II, and remain a dominant influence in the Diamond District" (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond_District,_Manhattan).

It is estimated that 90% of diamonds in the United States entered through dealers in New York, and that $400 million in diamonds are traded in a day (www.diamonddistrict.org/home.html). There are thousands of independent businesses and large retailers exchanging diamonds in a kind of diamond bazaar atmosphere, while the ordinary shopper can be among the crowd as well.

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47th Street

The Diamond District in Manhattan today has changed since the time just after World War II. The power of the Internet has created new opportunities for trading and marketing gemstones, as well as a worldwide recognition of the fact that diamonds are a ready supply of cash to finance war (www.nyinquirer.com/nyinquirer/2006/10/part_ii_disappe.html). According to a New York Inquirer report from October 2006, the number of New York diamond cutters has dropped in the Manhattan district from 3,000 to 300 in the past fifteen years (http://www.nyinquirer.com/nyinquirer/2006/10/part_ii_disappe.html). Diamond cutting is being outsourced to places such as the Venus Jewel Factory in Surat, India (http://www.nyinquirer.com/nyinquirer/2006/10/part_ii_disappe.html).

Also, the De Beers cartel has changed as new diamond finds are not always under their control. De Beers has settled law suits in the U.S. and can now operate freely again on American soil. Harry Oppenheimer, chairman of De Beers in 2000, was quoted as summing up the most significant development in the diamond industry as creating a Supplier of Choice, which is the idea of bypassing the middlemen and weeding the mid-sized retailers and resellers out of the De Beers chain (www.nyinquirer.com/nyinquirer/2006/10/part_ii_disappe.html). De Beers is going retail something they had never done when their coopertive operation or monopoly was dominant in the diamond industry.

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Images taken from Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Top_of_Rock_Cropped.jpg


A New York Inquirer report by Andrew Bast called the Manhattan Diamond District a "laundromat for stolen jewelry" (www.nyinquirer.com/nyinquirer/2006/10/part_i_a_laundr.html). Yet, the district continues to be an icon for New York City and mecca for moving diamonds. The positive and negative aspects of diamonds and the Diamond District were summed by the investigative reporters words: The Diamond District plays just as instrumental a role in the criminal side of the jewelry industry as it does in the side laced with dreams, romance and the tag line, 'A Diamond is Forever' (www.nyinquirer.com/nyinquirer/2006/10/part_i_a_laundr.html). Therefore, diamonds are known for their beauty and extreme hardness, but just as beautiful roses have supporting stems of prickly thorns, diamonds can inspire a dark side of human nature. I think the lights in this aerial overview of Manhattan resemble sparkling diamonds, and I believe the Diamond District will continue to be a mecca of diamond buyers and sellers in years to come.

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References and Links

Return to the table of contents or to other student reports at www.emporia.edu/earthsci/amber/go340/students/stupages.htm.

Webpage created May 15, 2008. For comments and concerns, email wabotele@yahoo.com.